WESTPORT (WBSM) —The Bristol County Sheriff’s Office has a new special sheriff.

Owen Bebeau, chief of staff at the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office, was sworn in June 21 by Sheriff Paul Heroux during the training academy graduation ceremony.

Bebeau succeeds Bruce Assad, who retired during the transition period between Heroux and former sheriff Tom Hodgson.

Bebeau, 62, will be responsible for performing the duties of sheriff if Heroux is unable to do so. The job description is similar to vice president

“It’s a tremendous honor to be the special sheriff here at the BCSO,” Bebeau said. “This organization is filled with professionals working around the clock to rehabilitate inmates and make our communities safer places to live and raise families. Corrections is a tough workplace, and I take the responsibilities of a special sheriff, the responsibilities of others’ safety, very seriously.”

Before becoming special sheriff, Bebeau served as personnel director for Attleboro for eight years, working with then-mayor Heroux. As BCSO chief of staff, he heads the personnel department, which focuses on a range of human resources services from recruitment and retention to retirements, benefits and contract negotiations.

Under the previous sheriff, the position was typically given to a member of security staff. Bebeau, a civilian, marks a departure from this practice. 

Heroux said he chose Bebeau because of what he called the importance of civilian oversight and because of his prior experience in Attleboro. 

“Owen proceeds on complicated issues slowly and methodically. He knows what is important to me and will make good decisions in my absence,” Heroux said. “I chose a civilian over a member of the security staff because I believe that civilian control over a paramilitary or military organization is important for accountability to the people.”

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