Bristol County Sheriff Paul Heroux announced in a press release on Thursday that the Sheriff's Office will expand the level of training needed to become a corrections officer and will modify the in-service training that current corrections officers receive.

The duration of the academy for new recruits has increased from eight weeks to nine weeks and added the additional classes: Dealing with Mental Illness (3.5 hours), Duty to Intervene (four hours), Implicit Bias (3.5 hours) and De-escalation (six to eight hours).

Along with the additional training, sheriff's spokesperson Jonathan Darling said these topics will also continued to be covered in existing classes such as Communication Skills, Use of Force, Suicide Prevention and Cultural Diversity.

The new courses will begin with the next recruit academy, which is scheduled to start on Monday, April 24.

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“If corrections officers are trained in de-escalation, they will have the tools they need to do their jobs better,” Heroux said. “How can we expect a CO to do a tough job if the CO doesn’t get the training they need to do their job?

“In the past, these topics were not taught to a level I was satisfied with, but now we’re making them a priority," he said.

In addition to the training new recruits will receive, the BCSO is also adding training hours in defensive tactics, report writing, physical fitness and suicide trauma awareness, as well as expanding de-escalation training during the officers' required 40 hours of annual in-service training.

Heroux underscored his initiative as Mayor of Attleboro to increase training for police officers after the death of George Floyd in 2020 and the protests that followed, and said this effort to increase training at the BCSO is a continuation of that same philosophy.

“I tripled the police training budget during a time when people were calling to defund the police,” Heroux said. “I decided to make investments in Attleboro police officers having the right training to do their jobs the best possible way. The same applies here at the Sheriff’s Office. This investment in training is really an investment in our communities as it will benefit our officers and the inmates.”

Darling also announced that Heroux will be hosting a "100 Days press conference" on Thursday, April 13. The press conference is expected highlight the work that has been done in the early days of Heroux's tenure as sheriff.

He is also hoping to release the final report on the evaluation performed by inmate suicide prevention expert Lindsay Hayes at that time.

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