AUGUSTA — Chief Deputy Everett Flannery Jr.’s desk is tucked away in the back of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office, out of view of anyone who strides the hallway that spans the department’s headquarters at the Hill House on State Street.

The inconspicuous placement is ironic, considering the man who uses it has, for two decades, helped shape the county’s law enforcement agency as either its top officer or second in command. That run will come to an end this month when Flannery resigns from the office he has served since 1992.

“It’s time,” he said. “After 21 years here as second or first in charge, I feel I’ve done what I can do here.”

Flannery, 55, was quick to point out that this is not a retirement. He’s too young for that, he said. He has sent out résumés he hopes will land him a job as a chief with a municipal department somewhere in central Maine. He declined to specify where he has applied pending completion of the application process.

“He’s had a wonderful career,” Office Manager Louise Schimke said. “He served the citizens of Kennebec County proudly and honorably.”

That service began more than 12 years before Flannery joined the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office. His first full-time position was as a patrolman for the Madison Police Department beginning in April 1980. Six months later he jumped to the Waterville Police Department, where he worked for 12 years, rising through the ranks until a five-month stint as acting chief in 1990.

Flannery, who holds a bachelor’s degree in information technology from Thomas College and a bachelor’s degree in public administration from the University of Maine Augusta, both of which he earned while serving with the sheriff’s office, began his education with an associate of science in criminal justice from UMA in 1978.

“That was a big deal back then,” Flannery said. “Most of the guys getting them were using their Vietnam GI Bill.”

Flannery was hired as Kennebec County’s chief deputy in October 1992. He was sheriff from October 2001 through January 2007.

“That’s all I’ve done here is serve as sheriff or chief deputy,” Flannery said.

He has been second-in-command to three sheriffs — Frank Hackett, Bryan Lamoreau and, since 2007, Randall Liberty.

“That’s quite an accomplishment, really,” Flannery said. “Most sheriffs bring in their own chiefs.”

Liberty, who was a sergeant with the office when Flannery was hired, was chief deputy during Flannery’s tenure as sheriff. Flannery did not seek re-election in 2006 and, with Liberty’s victory, the two switched places. Liberty said Flannery excels with personnel matters, technology and development of standard operating procedures.

“He does all that administrative stuff in the background that gives me the freedom to serve on committees statewide,” Liberty said.

Liberty said Flannery has meant as much personally as he has professionally.

“His friendship has been immeasurable to me,” Liberty said.

Technology and society have undergone a sea change since Flannery first got into law enforcement in the early 1980s. However, the biggest difference in law enforcement has not been the introduction of computers or improvements in training, but the introduction of DNA to assist investigations. When Flannery started his career, fingerprinting was on the cutting edge of technology, but there were limited opportunities to discover prints at a crime scene and it was relatively easy for a suspect to avoid leaving those prints behind.

“Now, with DNA, it has opened it wide,” Flannery said. “There are so many different areas DNA can be discovered compared to fingerprints.”

Flannery said police work has become much more technical and involves much more paperwork to give district attorneys the tools they need to convict a suspect.

“It requires added evidence and technical information to make sure it’s done consistently throughout the state,” he said.

Flannery said the goal is always to gather enough evidence to persuade a suspect to confess to a crime, particularly in child sex cases. Flannery was a detective investigating juvenile cases for the Waterville police for nine years.

“My goal was to obtain a confession if at all possible so the minor victim didn’t have to testify in court,” he said. “There’s no other feeling like it, particularly on those cases. You can’t fix what happened, but you can at least give them justice.”

Flannery said he has seen terrible things during his career, but he nothing has been as bad as the exploding opiate addiction rate and the associated crime it fosters. When Flannery was a detective, police often saw marijuana, and sometimes crack cocaine. Heroin, he believed, would never be an issue in rural Maine.

“We never saw heroin,” he said. “I never thought I’d see the issues with heroin and opiate addiction I now see. That’s the one thought I had early on I wish had come true.”

Flannery has seen opiates, which also include prescription pills such as OxyContin, devastate individuals and families from all backgrounds.

“Once you do it, then you realize you can’t do without it,” he said. “It gets to the point you have to have that fix to be normal.”

Flannery is committed to fighting the spread of the addiction if given the chance to be a chief. If not, he will be content spending more time with his family, which includes 1- and 4-year-old grandchildren.

Flannery doesn’t hesitate when asked what he will miss about the sheriff’s office.

“The people,” he said. “We have such dedicated people here it makes it a joy to come to work.”

Schimke said the people will miss Flannery, too. She recalled being called into Flannery’s office in 2001 when she was hired as a dispatcher. Flannery, new to his position as sheriff, wanted a chance to get to know Schimke and treated her with caring and respect. She said he’s shown the same care ever since, particularly when it comes to personnel decisions that can change people’s lives.

“He always thinks about the person, the employee, and the impact to the family and to the agency,” Schimke said. “He always takes those decisions seriously and weighs them heavily. I appreciate that. He’s fair. He’ll be missed.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642
[email protected]

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