EAST MADISON — Dale P. Lancaster, chief deputy at the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department, has announced his candidacy for county sheriff in the election this fall.
Sheriff Barry DeLong is not seeking another term after 20 years in office and will retire at the end of the year.
“My whole adult life, I have lived in Somerset County and policed mostly in Somerset County. I patroled, I was detective, a sergeant and a troop commander in Somerset County.” Lancaster said. “I will predicate my term of office on integrity, respect, fairness and dedication.”
Lancaster filed nomination papers with the Bureau of Elections at the Office of Secretary of State in March, according to an office spokeswoman. So far, he is the only person to file election papers for Somerset County sheriff. The deadline for filing is June 2. Election Day is Nov. 4.
Lancaster, 58, of Cornville, was a major when he retired in 2011 after 27 years with Maine State Police. He also was commander of the Major Crimes Unit of state police in southern Maine. He has been in law enforcement for 40 years.
Lancaster started his law enforcement career as a Somerset County sheriff’s deputy, working as a jailer and dispatcher in 1974. He worked the sheriff’s department’s night patrol after graduating from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy the following year.
He also was a Skowhegan police officer, becoming a sergeant before joining the Maine State Police in 1984. He later was commander of state police Troop C barracks in Skowhegan before he was promoted in 2007 to the rank of major, overseeing state police field troops and criminal divisions.
In December 2008, Lancaster completed an 11-week leadership academy at the FBI’s National Academy in Quantico, Va.
He was hired as deputy police chief in Skowhegan in December 2011. When Police Chief Michael Emmons was deployed to Afghanistan with the National Guard in March, Lancaster took over day-to-day Skowhegan police operations. He resigned his position there to become chief deputy in Somerset County in July 2012.
As deputy chief in Skowhegan, he supervised 13 patrol officers, two detectives, eight reserve officers, a parking enforcement officer and a part-time secretary.
The sheriff’s department employs about 100 people on the sheriff’s patrol, the criminal division, civil division, court security and operations and at the Somerset County Jail in East Madison, the state’s second-largest jail. Lancaster is a certified police chief/sheriff and corrections officer, was a canine handler and a member of the state police tactical team, and was trained in the Incident Command System for emergency response.
He also is a member of a working group of county sheriffs negotiating with the state Board of Corrections about changes in Maine law regarding operation of the state’s 15 county jails.
“Corrections is more than just housing people,” Lancaster said. “It about reducing recidivism so that when people who have been incarcerated here go back into society, they will have had a program to help them, give them a hand up. Will we save everyone? We won’t, but if we can save a few, are we better off as a society and a community? I argue yes.”
Lancaster said his qualifications for sheriff also include experience and training in human resources, financial budgets, employee contracts and internal affairs.
Among his accomplishments as chief deputy under Sheriff Barry DeLong, Lancaster cited the organization of an inmate-run hog farm, now in its third year; a large vegetable garden; a program to instruct inmates on the science of apple tree pruning; and a Narcotics Anonymous program.
The sheriff oversees a $16.8 million jail budget, which is subject to approval by the state Board of Corrections and acceptance by the county commissioners; and a $1.8 million law enforcement budget, which is subject to county Budget Committee approval and acceptance by the commissioners.
Lancaster lives in Cornville with his wife, Deborah. They have three daughters, ages 27, 24 and 18.