The Maine Elks Association, in conjunction with the Aroostook County Chiefs of Police Association, is pleased to announce that Sheriff Shawn D. Gillen has been selected to be the Maine Elks Association’s nominee for the prestigious, national Enrique “Kiki” Camarena Award.

The Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks established this award to recognize and honor law enforcement officers who have made a significant contribution in the field of drug awareness and prevention, and who personify Agent Camarena’s belief that, “One person can make a difference.”

Enrique Camarena grew up in a dirt-floor house with the hopes and dreams of making a difference. As a young man he worked his way through college, served in the United States Marine Corps and became a police officer. When he decided to join the United States Drug Enforcement Administration he told his mother, “I’m only one person, but I want to make a difference.”

On February 7, 1985, he gave his life trying to make a difference.  He was murdered by a Mexican drug cartel, while investigating drug trafficking into the United States. He was kidnapped, brutally tortured and killed. His death precipitated the start of the Red Ribbon Campaign, which Elks celebrate in his honor each year during October. The Camarena family and friends started the Red Ribbon Campaign as a tribute to Agent Camarena, however, it also serves as a reminder to all of us about the dangers of substance abuse.

The Presque Isle Elks, Lodge #1954, recommended Sheriff Gillen for this nomination when he was the Chief Deputy of the Sheriff’s Department.

To be considered for this most prestigious award one must:

  • Be an individual, not a corporation or organization
  • Be a law enforcement professional
  • Be a positive role model committed to a healthy life style
  • Have made an outstanding contribution in the field of drug awareness/prevention
  • Have gone beyond the normal responsibilities of their position.

In 1991, Sheriff Gillen began his law-enforcement career with the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Department   while working in the county jail.  He also worked as a transportation deputy and later a patrol deputy  before being assigned to the state drug enforcement unit in 2001. He remained with that unit for more than twelve years. Gillen was promoted during that time, serving as the supervisor of field operations for his final seven years with the unit. He was also a member of the state’s drug lab enforcement team. He left the unit in January of 2015, when then Sheriff Darrell Crandall appointed him to be Chief Deputy. Shawn was elected to the position of Aroostook County Sheriff in November of 2018. Gillen lives with his wife, Amy, and their three children in Blaine, ME.

Sheriff Gillen’s nomination, received by the Presque Isle Elks, to be considered for this award is unique in that it came from the entire membership of the Aroostook County Chiefs of Police Association. In his letter to the Presque Isle Elks, Michael Gahagan, Chief of the Caribou Police Department said, “Interim Sheriff Gillen’s dedication to the people of Northern Maine and passion for his job is evident in his work. Interim Sheriff Gillen’s values, morals and ethics are exemplary and his career is commendable. His employees look up to him as their leader. He is very worthy of this award.”

Sue Piper, 2018-2019 President of the Maine Elks Association said, “The Maine Elks are extremely proud to recognize the career of Sheriff Gillen. His dedication to the work of drug prevention, education and community involvement is truly inspiring.”

Anthony Gause, 1st Vice-President and Chairman of the Maine Elks Association’s Drug Awareness Program said, “I was impressed with the recommendation for Sheriff Gillen. Of all the nominations I have had the opportunity to review over the past several years, this one stands out because he was recommended by all his peers in Aroostook County. He instituted several programs for inmates that help to prepare them to live drug free lives.  These were the deciding factors I considered in forwarding his name as the Maine Elks Association’s nominee for national recognition.”

Alan Harding, current President of the Presque Isle Elks, Lodge # 1954, was not surprised when he learned that Sheriff Gillen had been selected to represent the Maine Elks Association at the national level. Speaking on behalf of the Lodge, Harding said, “Never has the selection of a nominee for the Enrique “Kiki” Camarena Award been so easy for a local Elks lodge.  The nomination of Shawn Gillen for this award this year was unanimously submitted by every member of the Aroostook Chiefs of Police Association, which includes every municipal police chief from Houlton to Fort Kent, as well as the lieutenant assigned to Maine State Police Troop F and the lieutenant for the Maine Forest Service.”

“As colleagues working with him, the local chiefs of police are particularly knowledgeable about the efforts of Shawn Gillen in the areas of substance abuse prevention and education.  Additional information supplied by Shawn’s previous supervisor, Retired Sheriff Darrell Crandall, Jr., reinforced the confidence of the members of Presque Isle Elks, Lodge #1954, that Shawn Gillen is, in fact, truly worthy of this award as a police officer who has gone above and beyond his duty to personally demonstrate that, ‘One person can make a difference’.”

Sheriff Gillen was formally recognized for his nomination for this award by officials from the Maine Elks Association at the regular meeting of the Aroostook County Commissioners in the administrative hearing room located on the third floor of the Aroostook County offices at 25 School Street in Houlton, ME, on April 17, 2019, at 1:00 p.m.