Heroux Tours Bristol County Jail Facilities With Hodgson as Part of Transition
Earlier this month, Democrat Attleboro Mayor and Bristol County Sheriff-Elect Paul Heroux met for breakfast with his former political rival, outgoing Republican Sheriff Tom Hodgson, for the first time since Heroux's narrow election victory over Hodgson in November.
During that meeting, they put the rancorous election behind them and began the process of transitioning the Bristol County Sheriff's Office to new leadership for the first time in over 25 years.
The transition appears to be on schedule as Heroux visited the BCSO facilities on Tuesday to take a tour with his soon-to-be predecessor Hodgson.
According to Sheriff's Office spokesperson Jonathan Darling, Heroux arrived in Dartmouth, where the House of Correction and the main offices of the BCSO are located, at approximately 9:30 a.m.
He then met BCSO Superintendent Steven Souza and Chief Financial Officer Susan Pimental as well as some other senior staff members.
Hodgson and Souza then introduced Heroux to staff in the administrative wing before touring the House of Corrections. They took Heroux to housing units with inmates as well as the cookhouse, classroom area, investigations unit, medical and central control.
After a media availability in Dartmouth, Hodgson, Souza, and Heroux then headed to the Ash Street Jail in New Bedford. Heroux concluded his tour around 2 p.m. after being shown around the jail and civil process center.
The Ash Street Jail, built in 1888, is the oldest operating jailhouse in the country and debates around its potential closure have gone on for decades.
Local progressive elected officials and activists, most of whom supported Heroux's campaign for sheriff, want to see the Ash Street Jail closed. They argue that due to its more than 180-year-old infrastructure, it is not suitable housing inmates.
Heroux previously stated in an appearance on WBSM's SouthCoast Tonight that he cannot commit at the outset to closing Ash Street. His concerns are that closing the Ash Street Jail, which also serves as a regional lockup, could create an issue of overcrowding at the House of Correction in Dartmouth – but he did not rule out the possibility of closing the old jailhouse in the future.
In that same SouthCoast Tonight appearance, Heroux also said that he values the institutional knowledge of the employees at the BCSO. He committed to not making any immediate and drastic changes in the programming or staff that would disrupt the daily operations of the jails or the BCSO facilities.
Heroux, a former corrections administrator and consultant before going beginning his political career by being elected state representative in 2012, told WJAR 10 that he comes in with a sense of familiarity with the facilities.
"The jail looked just like the other jails I've been in the past, and the sheriff was very cordial and very professional. It's been a good transition," he said. "I'm grateful that he gave me an opportunity to meet some of the staff before I got here before I arrive on Wednesday, January 4. I appreciate that very much."
Hodgson has been publicly supportive of his successor. In a recently televised farewell address, Hodgson wished Heroux well. In that address, Hodgson also reflected on and defended the core policies of his 25-year tenure as Bristol County Sheriff.
In a statement to WBSM, Hodgson continued to express confidence in Heroux's ability to do the job.
“It was nice to have Sheriff-Elect Heroux at the facility today to meet the staff and see how the facilities are run. He got a lot of smiles from our officers and staff, and I felt he was welcomed with open arms,” Sheriff Hodgson said. “I have no doubt he will be an amazing sheriff. The future of the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office is in good hands.”
Heroux will resign from his post as Attleboro Mayor and be formally sworn in as Bristol County Sheriff by Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin on Tuesday, January 3 at 5:30 p.m. during an inauguration ceremony at Durfee High School in Fall River.
He will statutorily assume the office of Bristol County Sheriff the following day on January 4.