There’s a new sheriff in Aroostook County

Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 7:03 PM EDT
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HOULTON, Maine (WAGM) - Sheriff Peter Johnson has been appointed to the role by Governor Janet Mills, effective September 1. His appointment follows the retirement of Sheriff Shawn Gillen, who recently retired to open a restaurant.

Sheriff Johnson says that although he is prepared for the role, he did not expect to take it on so soon. “This was a role that I had initially anticipated at some point in time I would end up taking on,” he explains, “it just happened a little bit sooner than what I had anticipated.” Sheriff Johnson previously served as a Commander for the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office, and has served as a police officer in Maine since 2008.

Continuous growth is a top priority for Sheriff Johnson. “Staying on top of emerging technology and trainings and making sure that the officers both in the jail and the deputies working on the road have that opportunity to engage in as many trainings as possible.” Sheriff Johnson says that staying up to date on new trainings allows the officers to continue improving.

Additionally, Sheriff Johnson will continue a few projects that are already in the works, including improvements to the dispatch center, installing a new jail, and expanding the radio signal reach across the county. Sheriff Johnson explains that improvements to the radio signals are necessary to improve communication. “There are times where we have places where we don’t have radio service or cellphone service, so we’re actually relying on an individual within the home to be able to call into dispatch to kind of update [us].”

As a Commander, Johnson took on a leadership role regarding the mental health crisis. He will use this experience when making plans for the new jail. “Ideally I would love to see specific areas of that jail that are for individuals that have substance use disorder or mental health disorders so that they can receive the treatment that they need so they can be as successful as possible when they do go back into the community.”

Due to his experience, Sheriff Johnson believes this will be a smooth transition into his new role.