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Baker-Polito Administration Appoints Thomas Turco as Department of Correction Commissioner
BOSTON – April 8, 2016 – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced the appointment of Thomas Turco as the new commissioner of the Department of Correction. With his extensive background in probation, Turco is well positioned to implement the Administration’s aggressive focus on enhancing inmates’ ability to successfully re-enter society following their release.
“Ninety percent of inmates in state prison will return to a life outside the walls, and the Department of Correction therefore has an important responsibility to prepare them for the lives they will lead as productive members of society,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Tom Turco has the right background and expertise to accelerate re-entry programs and lead a department whose operations are critical to ensuring the safety of the people of Massachusetts.”
“Throughout his career Tom has proven himself capable of leading important changes across the organizations he has managed, and I am very confident in his ability to lead the Department of Correction forward,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Security Dan Bennett. “I want to thank former commissioner Carol Higgins O’Brien for her years of service to the people of Massachusetts and for agreeing to assist during this transition.”
“The Department of Correction has responsibility for the 10,000 inmates in the state correctional system and the overwhelming majority of them will be released back into their communities, which is what makes it so important that we redouble our efforts on re-entry,” said Commissioner Turco. “I am proud to take on the responsibility of leading this Department, which has so many professionals who are also dedicated to achieving this goal.”
About Thomas Turco:
For the past year, Turco has served as Undersecretary of Criminal Justice within the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. In this role he provided strategic direction to the Department of Correction, to the Parole Board, and to the Sex Offender Registry Board while serving as liaison to the county sheriffs.
Turco began his criminal justice career in 1989 when he was appointed as a Probation Officer in the Westborough District Court. In 2000 he was promoted to Probation-Officer-In-Charge both at the Hampden and Worcester Community Corrections Centers under Sheriffs Ashe and Flynn, respectively. In 2003 he was named Chief Probation Officer of the Worcester Superior Court. For twelve years, CPO Turco supervised the operations of the probation department in the Worcester Superior Court for Worcester County.
Under his leadership, the Court implemented a number of programs that bolstered public safety. These included the Worcester Initiative for Supported Reentry program and Fatherhood Program and partnerships with a local treatment provider to offer weekly sex-offender treatment. “Operation Watchdog,” a joint effort with the Worcester Police Department created in 2008, successfully combined efforts to enhance the supervision of sex offenders.
Turco earned a degree in Criminal Justice from St. Anselm College and holds a Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration from Western New England College. He is also a graduate of the Florida Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Training Academy. Turco is active in his hometown of Auburn where he has served as Parks Commissioner and as a member of the Auburn Foundation Advisory Committee.
Baker-Polito Administration Awards $2.5 Million to Support Heroin and Opioid Crime Reduction Efforts
BOSTON – Today, Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, and Secretary of Public Safety and Security Dan Bennett announced the release of more than $2.5 million in federal grants to help District Attorneys, Sheriffs, and other criminal justice agencies strengthen and enhance their ongoing efforts to combat heroin and opioid abuse in Massachusetts.
“Law enforcement is on the front lines of the opioid crisis and it’s incumbent on us to provide them with every available resource to save lives,” said Governor Baker. “These grants provide yet another tool for us to begin bending the trend of overdoses and deaths as we combat this epidemic.”
This competitive grant opportunity allows eligible state and county criminal justice agencies to solicit grant funding for services aimed at prevention, intervention, diversion, enforcement, and treatment. All proposals were required to include a law enforcement nexus and place a primary focus on targeting heroin and opioid abuse.
“These grant awards are great news for families across the state that have been negatively affected by drug use in their communities,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “The Massachusetts State Police and the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office will now be able to purchase an additional 1,100 doses of Naloxone (Narcan), which will help to reduce the number of overdose deaths associated with prescription opioid and heroin abuse.”
“The law enforcement leaders receiving these grants were selected for the innovative approaches they recommend, for their compassion, and for their commitment to addressing the devastating effects of the addiction crisis that has ruined and taken so many lives,” said Secretary Bennett.
These awards will complement the Governor’s Opioid Task Force recommendations by expanding access to services for medicated-assisted treatment, development of a youth drug prevention curriculum, dissemination of educational materials as part of a public awareness campaign, treatment beds, and training for law enforcement personnel.
Last year, Governor Baker filed legislation to provide medical personnel with the power to intervene with patients suffering from addiction, control the spread of addictive prescription opioids, and increase education about substance use disorder for providers and in the community. Over one hundred additional treatment beds have been made available across the Commonwealth, with more expected thanks to funding from this grant program.
More information about the Governor’s Opioid Task Force is available at: www.mass.gov/statewithoutstigma.
The agencies receiving a grant award from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security under the “Heroin and Opioid Crime Reduction State Initiative” are as follows:
|Barnstable County Sheriff's Department|
|Berkshire County Sheriff's Office|
|Bristol County Sheriff's Office|
|Essex County District Attorney's Office|
|Essex County Sheriff's Department|
|Franklin County Sheriff's Department|
|Hampden County Sheriff's Department|
|Hampshire Sheriff's Department|
|Massachusetts Department of Correction|
|Massachusetts Parole Board|
|Massachusetts Department of State Police|
|Middlesex County Sheriff's Office|
|Norfolk County District Attorney's Office|
|Norfolk County Sheriff's Department|
|Northwestern District Attorney's Office|
|Plymouth County District Attorney's Office|
|Suffolk County Sheriff's Department|
|Worcester County-Middle District Attorney's Office|
|Worcester County Sheriff's Department|
Baker-Polito Administration Announces Justice Assistance Grants to Cities and Towns
Today, Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and Secretary of Public Safety and Security Dan Bennett announced that 27 cities and towns will receive a total of $2,169,409 in funding from the Edward J. Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program offered by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, Office of Grants and Research (OGR).
“These grants offer strong support for our municipal law enforcement partners and the communities they serve to tackle some of the most difficult challenges they face,” said Governor Baker. “Youth violence and the opioid crisis are just two areas where we are combining forces to make a positive impact in communities across Massachusetts, and it is my hope these grants will expedite our progress.”
“Local police know best which solutions will work for their communities,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, “and these grants allow them to seek funds in support of policy objectives that are specific to their localized needs.”
“Our local police work tirelessly to protect and serve our communities,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Security Dan Bennett. “These awards are well deserved and my office is committed to doing all that it can to provide the resources necessary to assist our local officials in their public safety efforts.”
The JAG Program provides Massachusetts local governments with critical funding for a range of programs that support local law enforcement, including programs for prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, and crime victim and witness initiatives. The round of grants announced today are specifically aimed at helping local police departments develop programs for the following areas:
- Substance Abuse Enforcement and/or Intervention with an Emphasis on Opioids;
- Youth Violence Prevention, Delinquency Prevention, School Safety, and/or Youth Engagement;
- SMART Policing; and
- Improving Coordinated Responses to Mental Health.