HOULTON, Maine — For someone who was never really sure he wanted to enter law enforcement, James Madore of Madawaska carved out a nice career in the field.
Madore retired on Dec. 31 after 13½ years as Aroostook County’s sheriff, bringing to an end 40½ years in the police profession. He was succeeded by Darrell O. Crandall Jr., who was sworn in as sheriff on Jan. 2.
Madore, 62, was born and raised in Fort Kent and joined the U.S. Army out of high school, serving from 1970-73.
“It was right toward the end of the Vietnam War,” Madore recalled. “I was in the medical field and spent my time in the U.S.”
After Madore’s discharge, his father Phil drew him into the “family business” of law enforcement.
“My dad was a police officer in Fort Kent and was also a deputy (for the sheriff’s office),” he said. “My dad told me the Fort Kent PD was hiring and encouraged me to apply. I said, ‘Dad, I don’t know if I would like police work.’”
Madore decided to give it a try and was hired by Fort Kent in 1974. He attended the municipal police academy and spent two years with the local department before joining the Maine State Police in 1977. He spent the next 20 years with the state police, retiring as a detective in 1997.
Madore then opened a sporting goods store in Madawaska for a short time, but the lure of police work became too great and he was hired as Limestone’s police chief in 1999, a position he held until 2001.
That year, he joined the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office and was named chief deputy to then-sheriff Ted St. Pierre. Upon St. Pierre’s resignation, Madore was appointed sheriff by then-Gov. Angus King. He successfully ran for re-election three times.
So why was the time right for Madore to retire for the second time in his professional career?
“The time (to retire) is right for me,” Madore said. “I turned 62 in May last year and felt I really wanted to scale back a little bit. I am not stepping down with any animosity.”
He said having Crandall come on as deputy chief in the fall of 2013 made it that much easier for him to consider retirement.
“I talked with Darrell and told him to make the department his, and he jumped in with both feet,” Madore said. “I have known Darrell forever, so I knew I was leaving the office in capable hands. The transition was awesome. The Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office is a premier agency.”
He said he sees the relationship between the sheriff’s office and the state police continuing to work well together under the new leadership.
Madore indicated that living in Madawaska and commuting to Houlton every day proved to be taxing at times.
“I would leave the Valley at 5 a.m. and be here to work at 7 a.m.,” he said.
Occasionally, he would work from a sub-office at the Caribou Superior Court, but for the most part he was making the 200-mile round trip on a daily basis.
Going from being a small-town patrol officer to the chief law enforcement officer in Aroostook County has been one of his proudest accomplishments in life, Madore said.
Along the way, he obtained an associate degree in criminal justice, completed the National Sheriff’s Academy in Longmont, Colorado, and graduated from the FBI National Academy. He was named Detective of the Year with the state police in 1994 and has served on the Maine Criminal Justice Academy board of trustees and the Maine Chiefs of Police Association. He also is a past president of the Maine Sheriff’s Association.
As an interesting side note, when Madore took over as interim-sheriff in 2001, he became his father’s boss for a short period of time until his father retired. Madore added he was looking forward to spending time traveling with his wife Linda and visiting grandchildren.
Although he is retiring, Madore won’t be settling into a rocking chair any time soon. He plans to continue working part time as a court security officer in Madawaska, Fort Kent and Caribou.
“I will really miss working with the people,” he said. “I was never a micro-manager. As long as the work was getting done ethically, I saw no need to be looking over someone’s shoulder. We work for the public, and I think I have done my best to accomplish that.”