CANTON, NY — St. Lawrence County Undersheriff Sean P. O’Brien announced Monday he is running for St. Lawrence County Sheriff in the November election.
Flanked by Sheriff Brooks Bigwarfe, Retired Sheriff Kevin Wells, State Senator Patty Ritchie, Senator-elect Mark Walczyk, Assemblyman elect Scott Gray, Conservative Party Chair Hank Ford many local elected officials and over 100 family, friends, relatives and fellow law enforcement officers.
O’Brien pledged that if he is elected he will carry on the traditions established by his predecessors. “The fundamental reason why I am standing here before each of you today is that I am a protector. A protector of St. Lawrence County, a protector of the long-established trust within the Office of Sheriff in St. Lawrence County since 1802. A protector of the rights that have long been established by our forefathers, the writers of the United States Constitution, and a protector of the laws of the State of New York,” said O’Brien as he kicked off his campaign for the Republican and Conservative nomination. “As Sheriff Bigwarfe will tell you, the last three years have been among the most challenging years of our respective careers. Law enforcement across our state and nation has experienced some of the most drastic changes but despite those challenges, we have made great progress for the citizens that we serve,” he said.
O’Brien said that when he was six years old, he decided to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, Norbert O’Brien, a Deputy Sheriff.
After graduating Ogdensburg Free Academy, he attended SUNY Canton where he obtained a degree in Criminal Justice. In January 2003, almost two decades ago, he was sworn in as a Police Officer and attended the David Sullivan Law Enforcement Academy at SUNY Canton. While attending the Police Academy, he was an active member for the Ogdensburg Rescue Squad, the Ogdensburg dive team and the Morristown Fire Department. He worked part-time for the village of Antwerp in Jefferson County and the Norfolk Town Police before joining the St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office.
During his career, he worked for Sheriff Gary Jarvis, Sheriff Kevin Wells and Sheriff Bigwarfe. Undersheriff O’Brien praised the 125+ employees of the Sheriff’s Office, including nurses, doctors, Deputy Sheriffs, Corrections Officers, kitchen staff, counselors, clerical staff, secretaries, administrative staff and Detectives.
He pointed to his work over the past two years with the jail administration, learning firsthand the challenges faced by the Corrections Division which has faced mandatory overtime, forced overtime, the HALT Act, Bail Reform and Medically Assisted Treatment. “Yet, if you were to ask the NY State Commission of Corrections, ours is one of the model facilities in the state, meeting, or exceeding state standards,” he said, pledging if elected to help the Corrections Division earn Accreditation. O’Brien traced his career starting as a deputy sheriff, handling calls, patrolling the roads, being deputized by U.S. Homeland Security as a Federal Task Force Officer before being promoted to detective. As a detective “I handled major crimes including homicides, robberies, sex crimes, wiretaps, search warrants and even public corruption cases involving public officials,” he said. “I was also elected three times as union treasurer and elected three times as the Union President for the St. Lawrence County Deputies Association.”
“As a Deputy Sheriff, one of the most rewarding times of my career was the night of August 30th, 2007, when two citizens and I rescued three individuals who were drowning in the middle of the St. Lawrence River,” he said. “We managed to find a rowboat that was nearby, locate the victims, and successfully pulled them into the rowboat to safety. These acts earned us a New York State Legislature Certificate of Merit from former Assemblyman Darrel Aubertine and New York State Senate Legislative Resolution #673 from retired Senator James Wright. “
As Undersheriff, O’Brien has:
• Helped oversee a $13.7-million dollar operating budget.
• Helped obtain $2.47 million dollars in grants, including over a million dollars in private funding.
• Assisted the Sheriff in meeting the requirement of Police Reform, the HALT Act,
• Expansion of the School Resource Deputy program, the Mobile Access Program, the body cam program, the drone program, expansion of the Drug Task Force, implementation of a Human Trafficking program, and expansion of the K9 program.
“As Undersheriff, I have valued legal gun ownership. Our Deputies ensure pistol permits are completed timely and from the time the pistol permit is assigned up to its completion and submitted back to our County Clerk our agency average is 28.3 days. O’Brien pointed with pride to the drug task force’s efforts to curtail drug trafficking with major operations such as Operation Drop, Gravy Train and 315, just to name a few.
“I pledge to continue to have our Drug Task Force remain vigilant and active in our community” to combat the heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and opioid epidemic.
If elected Sheriff, O’Brien intends to organize an Emergency Response Team (ERT) to specialize in responding to major incidents.
O’Brien and his wife, Jill, have three children, Claire, Colt and Cruz. They own Salon 1020 and the Ogdensburg Dance Center.