In 1994, Sheriff Hodgson, a former Maryland Police Lieutenant for Special Operations, joined the staff of the Bristol County Sheriff's Office as Assistant Deputy Superintendent of Investigations. He also served five years as a Councilor-at-Large on the New Bedford City Council.
Upon assuming the role of High Sheriff of Bristol County, Sheriff Hodgson immediately set out to implement his goals for corrections reform, public safety and raising the standards for the Bristol County Sheriff's Office. He instituted structured disciplines for the inmate population and expanded the work release programs. Approximately three years ago Sheriff Hodgson gained international attention when he instituted the Tandem Work Crew, a strictly voluntary program for medium security inmates. While initially controversial, the Tandem Work Crews continue to work in communities throughout the County. He banned tobacco products for staff and inmates, removed televisions from cells, and donated weight-lifting equipment to police departments and the local Boys and Girls Club. In July of 2002, in an attempt to offset severe budget cuts, Sheriff Hodgson instituted a $5.00 cost-of-care fee that every inmate is charged for each day they are incarcerated. Programs affording educational opportunities, spiritual assistance and vocational aptitude have expanded at the House of Correction. Sheriff Hodgson designed a regional lock-up at the Ash Street facility for the Bristol County Police Departments. The Ash Street operation began in 1998 and for fiscal year 2003 reported 5,988 Total Locked-Up Days generating revenues of approximately $301,000. A satellite lock-up facility is planned for the new Seekonk Police facility.
Sheriff Hodgson signed a pact with Carlos Cesar, Regional President of the Azores, to provide the Portuguese language and cultural classes for potential deportees. The Sheriff has been working closely with President Cesar and federal authorities on an amendment to the existing legislation on deportation.
Sheriff Hodgson has been successful in bringing together a number of Law Enforcement/Public Safety agencies through the establishment of a Law Enforcement Collaborative. The County Police Chiefs meet regularly with the Sheriff to discuss ways to share experience, intelligence and resources. The Bristol County Sheriff's Office is a member of the South Coast Anti-Crime Team (SCAT) that uses the combined resources of the Sheriff's Office and other communities in an effort to end the proliferation of drugs in the area and other criminal activity. The Sheriff has also established a Warrant Apprehension Unit to assist with the apprehension of outstanding warrants.
At the invitation of the Bureau of Justice, Sheriff Hodgson went to Washington in 1998 to be briefed on the growing national concern regarding terrorist activities and weapons of mass destruction. Since then he has become a leader in homeland security issues and has brought together public safety officials from Local and State Police, Fire Departments, INS, National Guard, Coast Guard and other federal agencies, Hospital Groups and others to form the Bristol County Homeland Security Task Force whose mission was to prepare a Bristol County Critical Incident Response Plan. It has always been the Sheriff's belief that public safety-first responder groups can best serve the community when working in a collaborative effort. The Sheriff has been invited to address several groups at seminars and training sessions throughout the country on the subject of anti-terrorism and the Bristol County Homeland Security Task Force, which is one of the most complete and comprehensive in the country.
He has added two certified Explosive Detection canines (Bomb Dogs) to the BCSO K-9 Division as a component of the Response
Plan. Through a grant, Sheriff Hodgson purchased a state-of-the-art Mobile Command Unit (Incident Command Center) containing sophisticated communication and other equipment that is available to every community in the County. Incident Command Vehicle training for Police, Fire and Public Safety agencies is on-going. As a result of the Sheriff's many meetings in Washington D.C. with the President's Homeland Security Staff, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and other agencies, Sheriff Hodgson and the Bristol County Sheriff's Department was included with the select group of law enforcement agencies to become a site for the "Joint Regional Information Exchange System". This highly sophisticated computerized system has been installed, is operational, and is already proving to be an outstanding tool and resource the Sheriff is able to provide to assist law enforcement, public safety and the Bristol County Homeland Defense Task Force. Prior to this system, one of the other vital Intel sources the Sheriff has been able to access has been through his long-term friendship with Steve Emerson, widely acclaimed Terrorism consultant and author of "American Jihad". Also recently implemented in the Bristol County Sheriff's Office Law Enforcement Division is the "Locator Program", an intelligence system which provides daily and up-to-the-minute information on missing and exploited children nationwide which we then are able to issue all-point bulletins to alert Law Enforcement officials throughout the County.
School Programs: Sheriff Hodgson set up a very successful program called CHOICES in which inmates are taken to schools around the County to speak with students about the importance of making good choices. Another program, SLAM (Students Learning a Message) provides the opportunity for students to be brought in to the facility for a tour and a presentation where inmates speak to them. He has also developed a "Safe to Learn" Program that provides training to school department staff, parents and students on proactive and reactive responses to school incidents involving violence or hostage situations. School audits and risk assessment are also provided as part of the program.
Sheriff Hodgson's commitment to public safety also includes initiatives for the senior community. The Sheriff has successfully implemented four TRIAD programs in Bristol County, namely Easton, Attleboro, Rehoboth and Mansfield, with Swansea due to sign on shortly. TRIAD is a collaborative effort for senior citizens introduced by the National Sheriff's Association involving the Sheriff's Department, Police Department and Council on Aging. Also implemented by Sheriff Hodgson is the "R.U.O.K." Program for senior citizens, in which they sign on to be telephoned every morning as part of the monitoring/response system.
Most recently, Sheriff Hodgson has initiated a new employee accountability system based on similar programs studied by the Sheriff and his staff at Broward County, Florida and Rikers Island, New York. The Strategic Accountability Management System (SAMS) is a management accountability system designed to hold employees accountable for the work they are performing and the subsequent results. The goals of this accountability system are to effect change through teamwork, encourage continuous improvement resulting in higher levels of efficiency and accountability for the services provided to the people and community served.