SOUTH PARIS, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – Oxford County Chief Deputy Hart Daley says the last 24 hours have been a "whirlwind" after former Sheriff Wayne Gallant resigned.
Daley says the last few weeks have been a "very difficult time" for the department. "It's a rough time," he said. "We've got to get through it, but we are going to get through it together."
Daley says his number one priority right now is making sure the people of Oxford County trust his department.
He says when he got the call from Sheriff Gallant warning him that he was "dumbfounded." He said, "Not only did it affect the Sheriff's role here, but it affects my position. And I have a family, and I need a job as well. But more importantly, it put a black eye on our agency."
Governor LePage by statute has to appoint someone to the role of interim Sheriff now that Gallant has resigned. Chief Deputy Daley hopes that person will be him. "I know my name has been sent to the Governor's Office for consideration," he said. "I hope it's me that they choose. Realistically, I have been running the day-to-day operations for the last five-and-a-half years, so it would be a smooth transition for me to step into that role until the next election."
Chief Deputy Daley came to the Oxford County Sheriffs Department after working several law enforcement jobs, including one at the Lewiston Police Department.
He says that if he is appointed as Sheriff, he will make sure his staff has a thorough sexual harassment training, in addition to the already annual trainings.
Ray Cote, the representative for the Teamsters 340 Union, at one point called for Chief Deputy Daley to resign as well as Sheriff Gallant, claiming that Daley knew about Gallant's alleged behavior.
Daley firmly denies the allegations. "That is absolutely 100 percent false," he said. "I had no idea. I don't socialize with my staff outside of work, and nor did I with the Sheriff." Daley says he knew about the allegations about 15 minutes before they came out in the news, because the Sheriff called him to warn him. "I was as blindsided as everybody else," Daley said.
He says had he known about the Sheriff's behavior, that he would've taken it to the Attorney General immediately. He says no employee and no union representative ever came to him with a complaint.
"I didn't condone that. I would have allowed them to investigate it, and I certainly wouldn't have turned a blind eye to it," said Daley.
Daley said now his focus shifts to helping the department regain trust from the community.
"It's really tough for my deputies to go out there and put on a professional face and continue on the face of that kind of adversity," said Daley. "I want the public to continue to trust them and that their complaints will be handled and their investigations will be done competently and professionally."
Daley says he plans to stick by his department. "That would be the easy way out, the just bail out and get another job," he said. "I would never do that to my staff."
Daley said he does not believe there are other deputies engaging in similar inappropriate behavior.
He said he has not talked with Gallant about the facts or truth of the allegations.
His name could be one that gets proposed for the interim sheriff position to finish Gallant's term.