Twice during his 19-year career as a law enforcement officer, Jeffrey Bishop has been accused of breaking the law while employed as a cop, but neither time was he fired.
In 2007, Bishop, 53, of Cherryfield was found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of attempted criminal mischief while employed as a patrol deputy by the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, and now he is facing five felony drug furnishing and trafficking charges. He was arrested on the drug charges earlier this month less than a week after he worked his last shift as a patrol officer for the Calais Police Department.
Bishop was fired once, in 2015, while working as a part-time officer for the town of Winter Harbor, but the reasons for his firing there remain confidential. In response to a Freedom of Access Act request for Bishop’s employment records with that town, Winter Harbor Police Chief Danny Mitchell Jr. confirmed that Bishop had been fired but said there was nothing in his archived file that met the legal definition of a public document.
In June 2006, when Bishop was a Washington County sheriff’s deputy, he threw a political opponent’s campaign sign into the Narraguagus River in Cherryfield after losing the Republican primary in that year’s sheriff election. He was suspended without pay, after initially being told he would be fired, and later was found guilty of attempted criminal mischief for the incident and ordered to pay a $100 fine.
Bishop, like other patrol officers with the department, was a member of the Teamsters Local 340 union chapter and appealed his suspension. He ended up being awarded five months of back pay in exchange for resigning from the department.
It is relatively rare in Maine for county law enforcement officials, which includes sheriff’s deputies and corrections officers, to be fired or forced to resign. From 2015 through 2020, 272 officers throughout the state were disciplined for misbehavior but only 15 were terminated, were suspended pending termination or resigned in lieu of termination, the Bangor Daily News has reported.
Bishop, whose last day with the Calais Police Department was on Jan. 30, remained in custody Tuesday on $30,000 bail at the Aroostook County Jail, where he is being held in order to keep the former cop separated from the inmate population at the Washington County Jail in Machias. Bishop had informed Calais Police Chief David Randall on Jan. 11 of his decision to retire.
Bishop is accused of having given hydrocodone pills to a Baileyville woman in his Calais police cruiser “while on duty” with the department and, in exchange for giving her drugs, receiving what police describe as “a non-monetary form of payment,” according to a court affidavit. The woman told police she was given pills by Bishop on approximately half a dozen different occasions, the document said.
Bishop’s last day working as a Calais police officer was on Jan. 30. Two days later, on Feb. 1, he allegedly gave fentanyl and hydrocodone to a 17-year-old girl from his personal truck in the parking lot of Narraguagus High School in Harrington, according to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.
It was the Feb. 1 incident, which basketball coaches at the school reported to police, that prompted the investigation that uncovered Bishop’s alleged illegal drug activity, according to the MDEA affidavit.
Though the 2006 sign incident was extensively reported on at the time by the Bangor Daily News and other media outlets, it is not clear if officials in Calais were aware of Bishop’s prior work history when he was hired as a part-time officer there in August 2019. Among other agencies where Bishop had worked were police departments in Baileyville, Ellsworth, Gouldsboro, Jonesport and Milbridge, and as a corrections officer at the now-defunct Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport.
David Randall, the Calais police chief, did not respond to messages seeking comment on Monday or Tuesday.
Michael Ellis, the Calais city manager, said Tuesday that he does not know if Randall was aware of Bishop’s work history with Washington County or Winter Harbor before he offered Bishop a job. He said he knows Randall did speak with Lewis Pinkham, the town manager and police chief in Milbridge, where Bishop worked immediately prior to being offered the job in Calais.
Pinkham has said he had no issues with Bishop’s job performance in Milbridge. Bishop resigned from that department because the town was considering slashing its police budget, which would have greatly reduced Bishop’s hours, according to Pinkham.
The Bangor Daily News also submitted a public records request to Washington County for Bishop’s employment records with the sheriff’s department, but the documents the county provided in response do not reflect any information about the political sign incident.
One of the documents is a one-page consent order from the Maine Board of Arbitration and Conciliation, which indicates that Bishop had filed an employment complaint against the sheriff’s department in 2005, a year before the sign incident took place. The order indicates that Bishop was to be awarded seniority status with the department and to be entitled to unspecified benefits from the county from July 1, 2005, through Dec. 31, 2007.
The other three documents all are one-page letters written in January and February 2008 from the county’s attorney and Bishop’s then-attorney, Donald Brown of Brewer, concerning a settlement payment from the county to Bishop in the amount of $9,986.76.
One of those letters, from the county’s attorney to Bishop, makes reference to a “Release and Resignation” signed by Bishop that contains information about “the terms of your settlement with the County, including your resignation from employment.”
When asked Monday about the “Release and Resignation” document, Washington County Manager Betsy Fitzgerald, who began working for the county in 2010, said she had looked in Bishop’s archived personnel file but did not find any document that matched that description.