SOUTH BERWICK — Police Chief Dana Lajoie said he believes in collaborating, in communicating and finding ways to increase the rapport between agencies and departments.

He said he’s prepared to tap into expertise that already exists within rural patrol and at York County Jail, and build on it if he is successful in his bid for the Democratic nod for York County sheriff in the primary next June and then in the November 2014 election.

Lajoie is in a two-way race to become the Democratic candidate for sheriff, but that could expand to a larger field. Paul Main of Alfred, a former longtime sheriff’s deputy who mounted an unsuccessful run against incumbent Sheriff Maurice Ouellette in the 2010 primary, has already registered with the Maine Ethics Commission as a candidate. Main earlier this week said he’s in the running, but in no hurry to make a formal announcement.

Ouellette, who is in his second term as the county’s top cop, said he hasn’t yet decided if he’ll seek a third term.

“To be determined at a later date,” Ouellette said in an emailed response. “Way too early to be announcing. It’s summer time, people want to relax.”

Lajoie said it’s the right time for him to announce his intention to run, and noted some candidates for sheriff in other Maine counties put the word out two years ahead of the election. Letting folks know he’s in the running now, he said, means he’ll be able to do his due diligence and meet and talk with people without having the campaign interfere with his current job.

So far, no Republicans have publicly expressed interest.

A Berwick native, Lajoie, 58, pointed out that those who work for his South Berwick department tend to stick around. He’s looking at hiring for the first time in nine years because one officer is retiring, he said.

A police officer for 33 years, he’s been chief in South Berwick since 1986, and for a couple of years, he served as chief in both South Berwick and Berwick.

“I’m a supporter of collaboration,” said Lajoie, at a Thursday interview in his office at the police department, housed in the town hall on Main Street.

South Berwick, with a population of about 7,200, has a 27-member department made up of eight full-time and eight part-time patrol officers, four full-time and six part-time dispatchers, and one clerical worker. As well, he said, there are a few part-time traffic officers.

Lajoie comes across as a soft-spoken, confident fellow. And while his own department is small, he seemed undaunted by the fact he’d be the top administrator of a department that includes upwards of 100 jail staff and two dozen patrol deputies. He said he hopes to build on the work that is already being done and tap into the expertise that already exists.

He said if he’s successful in his bid for sheriff, he’d work to strengthen the relationship between the sheriff’s office and Maine State Police Troop A and also between the county government and the sheriff’s office.

He took note of the new arrangement between Maine State Police Troop A and the sheriff’s office that divides patrol responsibilities and the fact that several of the communities patrolled by the sheriff’s office have hired contract deputies to provide 40 hours a week of dedicated patrol coverage. Lajoie said he’d support legislation that would propose that communities be required to pay toward some sort of law enforcement once a certain population threshold is reached.

He has been a member of the York County Jail Advisory Board, several previous regional dispatch consolidation committees, the Seacoast Emergency Response Consortium, and is liaison to the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety and is a member of several police associations.

He and his wife Elaine have been married for 37 years. They have two grown children.

He said he is eager to learn and is willing to work for the common goal to serve citizens.

“I feel I can contribute to the entire county,” said Lajoie. “I’m open minded, and I love to communicate.”

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, Ext. 327 or [email protected]

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