An Oxford County board is taking the unusual step of calling for the county sheriff's removal.

The Oxford County Board of Commissioners issued a statement Thursday on their call for Gov. Janet Mills to remove Sheriff Christopher Wainwright from duty, citing a “failure to efficiently and faithfully perform his duties.”

The commission decided to seek Wainwright’s removal on Jan. 16, saying then that Wainwright “has failed to faithfully and efficiently perform the duties of his Office and improperly exercised and acted outside of his legal authority.”

In today’s statement, the commission said that Wainwright had been a source of difficulty since being elected in 2018. 

“Over the course of Sheriff Wainwright's tumultuous tenure, the Oxford County Commissioners have spent an inordinate amount of time dealing with, mitigating and resolving mistakes made and crises generated by Sheriff Wainwright's failure to efficiently and faithfully perform his duties and where he has acted outside of his lawful authority and contrary to Oxford County policies,” the commissioners wrote.

The statement went on to say that Wainwright has cost the county “tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars and hundreds of hours,” and called dealing with the sheriff “a negative distraction” that has contributed to problems with morale and staffing at the sheriff’s department.

At the commission’s Jan. 16 meeting, where all three members voted to recommend Wainwright’s removal, the commission cited, among other complaints, “his actions and omissions in 2021 regarding the disposal of firearms.”

The Sun Journal and Bangor Daily News reported in August 2023 that Wainwright sold more than $30,000 in firearms from the sheriff’s department evidence room without documenting the sales or informing the commission. 

In today’s statement, the commission noted that since Wainwright is an elected official, the commission itself cannot discipline or fire Wainwright, but it is allowed to petition the governor to remove Wainwright from office.

“This vote was not one that the commissioners took lightly, hastily or without pursuing every other available option over the course of several years, but Sheriff Wainwright's actions have left the commissioners with no other option than to pursue his removal at this time,” the commissioners wrote. “It is important to the commissioners that the citizens and taxpayers of Oxford County know that no one is above the law, including its top elected law enforcement official.”

According to the department’s website, Wainwright began his career 30 years ago as a patrol deputy with the department. 

Minutes of the Jan. 16 meeting indicate Wainwright was present during an executive session with the commission prior to its decision. Wainwright did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Spectrum News.