Governor Clarifies Statutory and Constitutional Provisions Relating to Sheriffs

September 27, 2017

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531

AUGUSTA—Governor Paul R. LePage today issued clarifications to address misinformation regarding his directive to county sheriffs to cooperate with ICE detainment requests.

“We are a nation of laws,” stated Governor LePage. “We expect our law enforcement officials to comply with the law.”

The following clarifications include the citations from the Maine Constitution or State law as applicable.

1) The Constitution of the State of Maine unambiguously states that the Governor may remove a sheriff from office. Article IX, Section 10 grants the Governor this removal power whenever he, upon complaint, due notice and hearing finds that a sheriff is not faithfully or efficiently performing any duty imposed by the sheriff by law.

2) Under state law, the Governor has the authority to direct Sheriffs to obey all orders relating to law enforcement. Many members of the media are confused or have neglected to include that Maine state law also gives the Governor the authority to direct county sheriffs. This statute has been left out of many stories: “Sheriffs shall obey all orders relating to law enforcement which they receive from the Governor” 30-A M.R.S.A. 401(4).

3) One way the Governor may receive a complaint for removal is through the County Commissioners. Maine state law (30-A M.R.S.A. 441) provides county commissioners with the ability to file a complaint for removal whenever they find that the sheriff is not faithfully or efficiently performing their duties. This is only one method by which the Governor may receive a complaint.

Governor LePage expects all county sheriffs in Maine to follow the law and his legal directive, as outlined in his Sept. 26 letter to all county sheriffs. The Governor’s goal is to ensure all Maine children, families and citizens are kept safe from harm.