BANGOR, Maine — Penobscot County Sheriff Glenn Ross announced Thursday that he will not seek another term and plans to retire at the end of the year after 36 years in law enforcement.
“I’m looking for a relaxed retirement,” Ross, who turns 64 in April, said during a Thursday phone interview. “I’ve given my heart and soul to this agency my entire career.”
Ross said he always had hoped to retire at 65 and will continue to live in Exeter with his wife, Christine, who expects to retire from her probation and parole job with the state after 33 years, he said.
Ross joined the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office in 1977 and graduated from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy as valedictorian a year later.
“I don’t know how that happened,” Ross said with a laugh.
Over the next two decades, Ross worked in many different positions in the county, including stints as a patrol deputy, sergeant, detective and chief deputy.
He first took his post as sheriff in 2002, under appointment by then-Gov. Angus King, after Sheriff Ed Reynolds died after a year-and-a-half-long battle with cancer. Reynolds, a Republican, had defeated Ross, a Democrat, in a race for the sheriff’s seat 18 years earlier. But Reynolds later hired Ross as his chief deputy.
Reynolds had planned to retire at the end of his term. Ross won the sheriff’s seat in Penobscot County in an election three months after Reynolds died and has been sheriff ever since, elected to three terms.
Penobscot County Commission Chairman Tom Davis said Ross’ retirement will be “a loss for the county. He’s done a marvelous job. I’ve been privy to his operations for 24 or 25 years and he’s been an excellent sheriff and he has excellent people under him.”
Ross is a graduate of the National FBI Academy, former board member of the Penobscot County National Alliance of Mentally Ill Coalition, and past president of the Maine Sheriff’s Association, among many other posts.
“I’ve been able to do all the things I wanted to do,” Ross said of his decision to end his career.
Ross’ career wasn’t without controversy. In 1983, when he was president of a sheriff’s office union, Ross was fired by then-Sheriff Timothy Richardson because of “lack of respect for supervisors” and “not getting along with people,” Richardson said at the time.
Petitions circulated around Penobscot County pushed to have Ross reinstated, arguing that he was fired because of his efforts through the union to improve working conditions for deputies.
Later that year, the County Commissioners voted to reinstate Ross. Then the Maine Labor Relations Board found Richardson had violated multiple rules and found him guilty of union-busting” and “illegal intimidation of employees,” among other violations, according to past Bangor Daily News stories.
Ross went on to beat Richardson in the 1984 Democratic primary for sheriff.
Ross faced criticism in recent years for informing Bob Carlson about the Maine State Police investigation into allegations of child sex abuse against the well-known minister. Carlson jumped from the Penobscot Narrows Bridge to his death early the next morning in November 2011. Ross said at the time that he told Carlson because the minister was on the Penobscot County Jail’s board of visitors and Ross wanted to limit his access to the jail.
A primary election to replace Ross could be held in June, with the general election in November. To this point, no one has officially announced plans to run, but potential candidates likely have been waiting for Ross to decide whether he would seek re-election.
“I believe that we have one of the best, if not the best, sheriff’s offices in Maine, and that’s because of the people we attract and the policies we’ve developed,” Ross said.