SKOWHEGAN — Deputy Chief Dale Lancaster is resigning his position with the Skowhegan Police Department to become the chief deputy of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department.

Lancaster, 57, will be the No. 2 man at the sheriff’s office, reporting to Sheriff Barry DeLong. He begins work Sept. 17.

“I think Dale will do an excellent job,” DeLong said Monday. “He’s got 30, 35 years of law enforcement experience. He started with the sheriff’s department. He’s from this county, born and raised here.”

DeLong said his former chief deputy, John Carroll, retired with 50 years of law enforcement service July 20 at age 74.

Lancaster, of Cornville, will be part of the command staff overseeing about 90 people on the sheriff’s patrol and at the Somerset County Jail in East Madison.

“He’ll be involved with patrol, criminal division, civil division, court security and the operations of the jail; and in my absence, he’ll be acting sheriff,” DeLong said. “We’re the second-largest jail in the state of Maine; this is no little operation.”

Lancaster was a major when he retired last summer after 27 years with Maine State Police.

Lancaster was a Somerset County sheriff’s deputy beginning in 1974. He also was a Skowhegan police officer, achieving the rank of 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 chief in Skowhegan in December. When Chief Michael Emmons was deployed to Afghanistan with his National Guard unit in March, Lancaster took over day-to-day Skowhegan police operations.

Lancaster said Emmons will be back shortly after he moves over to the sheriff’s office, leaving only a few weeks of transition. He said there are qualified people working for the Police Department and the town manager to “make sure the ship stays afloat.”

As deputy chief in Skowhegan, he supervised 13 patrol officers, two detectives, eight reserve officers, a parking enforcement officer and a part-time secretary.

He said he worked well with Town Manager John Doucette Jr. and the Board of Selectmen.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with selectmen,” he said. “They’ve been very receptive to ideas. There were some tough budgetary issues that had to be decided, and they went out of their way to help the department move in a positive direction.”

Lancaster said he sees the move to the sheriff’s office as an opportunity to better serve the people, not just in Skowhegan, but in all of Somerset County.

Doucette said he has not yet decided how or whether the deputy chief’s job will be filled after Lancaster leaves. He said any decision he makes will be brought to the selectmen.

“He did an excellent job, considering what he was put into when the chief left,” Doucette left. “He went right into the furnace and did a real good job. He’s very professional, organized, can-do attitude; hate to lose him, very much so.”

Selectmen are scheduled to take up Lancaster’s resignation at their regular meeting tonight.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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