Their offices are separated by one street, and they’ve worked side by side for the last three plus decades.
In nine months, both Ellsworth Police Chief John DeLeo and Hancock County Sheriff William Clark will be retired.
WABI TV5’s Wayne Harvey had a chance to catch up with them as they looked back at their time in law enforcement.
“I always thought every day I worked was interesting because that’s the part about the job we both like is that one day to the next you never know what your going to be doing,” said Sheriff Clark.
Both Chief DeLeo and Sheriff Clark put on their first badge in the 1970’s. They know their police work habits will go with them into retirement.
“Even though I don’t patrol,” said Chief DeLeo. “You’re always looking, as strange as it sounds, you’re looking at inspection stickers and registrations, and after doing it so many years, it’s kind of ingrained in your mind to do something just as simple as that, and hopefully I’ll stop looking at inspection stickers.”
“You don’t,” said Sheriff Clark. “Though a trained police officer can drive right down Main Street, one car after the other look at the plate, sticker, and operator, plate-sticker-operator, plate-sticker-operator just like that, of every car going down there he can see that, and he can’t stop doing it.”
Both men know retirement will be a major change in their lives.
“It will definitely be strange,” said Ellsworth Police Chief DeLeo. “Certainly won’t miss the phone calls at 2 o’clock in the morning, but I mean I’ll miss the people I work with, like I say, many of them for thirty years, so there will be some things I’ll miss and some things I won’t miss.”
“see I envy John because John was still able to find away to be a police officer,” said Hancock County Sheriff Clark. “I’m just a police administrator. I have a chief deputy who is my police chief, he takes care of my law enforcement. I have my jail administrator, my civil process supervisor so, I really, I’m not even qualified to write up a traffic summons any more, I don’t even have a book I n my office, you see what I’m saying? so to say am I going to miss police work, I’ve missed police work for years I haven’t done it for a long time, so I am going to miss that.”
Both men credit their success with working closely with one another, and while the new Sheriff will be determined in November’s election, Chief DeLeo knows his successor, at least on an interim basis, with be Ellsworth Lt. Harold Page. “Obviously, and hopefully, he’ll make some changes and everybody has their own management style and the way I did things may not necessarily be the way Harold will do things. Change is not necessarily a bad thing.”
“From my point of view,” said Sheriff Clark. “My operation is as good as it’s ever been, so if somebody comes in there and changes it and it’s not as good as it was, I did the best I could.”
As they approach the end of their careers, both men look back fondly on the beginning of this journey.
“I think I would do it again,” said Chief DeLeo. “I mean it’s been a rewarding career. I’m not, what else I would have done to tell you the truth, and I think when I got in it 40 years ago, I didn’t think geez I’ll be in it 40 years. I mean I had no idea it would turn out the way it did, even when I started in Ellsworth I didn’t come down here thinking oh geez I’ll be chief, long story short, it’s been a good ride.”
Sheriff Clark agreed “Oh I’d definitely do it again. I wish I was 22 and starting all over again.”