Since taking office in 2017, Sheriff Cocchi’s administration has successfully delivered on multiple campaign promises all designed to fulfill unmet needs and uplift Western Massachusetts.
HELPING WITH THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
When Sheriff Cocchi first ran for office, he promised to leverage the talent and manpower of the department for whatever challenges may come, and help bridge the gap relative to unmet needs in the community.
When the COVID-19 Pandemic came, he continued to make good on that promise. From shifting York Street Industries production to create PPE amid a national shortage to helping get vaccines in arms and tests to those who wanted one, he has made the department a central part of the pandemic response in Western Massachusetts.
Sheriff Cocchi had staff help operate the MEMA Western Mass. Command Center and transport sick residents across Massachusetts to and from isolation hotels.
He also opened up the First Responder Recovery Home to help infected frontline workers, from law enforcement, fire and EMTs to retail and grocery workers, recover from illness while not jeopardizing the health of their family members.
The outreach continues today as new needs emerge in the community, and Sheriff Cocchi ensures the department’s staff are there to help.
In the News:
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ADDRESSING THE OPIOID CRISIS HEAD-ON
In May 2018, Sheriff Cocchi opened the only Section 35 addiction treatment beds in this half of the state.
The department’s Stonybrook Stabilization & Treatment Center now has maintains more than 130 treatment beds and since its inception, the program has helped more than 2,500 people with substance use disorder find a life free from drugs and alcohol.
And unlike insurance-based programs that typically discharge someone by the 14th day of treatment, the Stonybrook Stabilization & Treatment Center’s average length of treatment is around 50 days, helping make its re-commitment rate less than 5 percent.
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IMPLEMENTING MEDICATION ASSISTED TREATMENT PROGRAM
In an effort to provide the best care for everyone in the department’s custody, Sheriff Cocchi has expanded the Medication Assisted Treatment program at all of the Hampden County correctional facilities.
Since the program was expanded in 2019, the department has provided FDA approved medications including Buprenorphine (Suboxone), Methadone and Naltrexone (Vivitrol) for treatment of opioid use and alcohol use disorder to a total of over 2,100 clients.
Group and individual therapy; education, including overdose prevention, is also provided to each MAT participant and the result is a reduced likelihood of an overdose upon release as well as higher rates of people achieving long-term sobriety.
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STARTING THE "FREEDOM PUPS" PROGRAM TO HELP OFFENDERS AND DOGS
As a candidate, Sheriff Cocchi pledged to implement a “pets for prisoners” program to help save dogs and heal inmates.
As Sheriff, he has made that vision a reality and since the program’s first day, the offenders have trained dozens of dogs, helping them find great homes across the region and the dogs have helped the offenders learn how to care for all of another creature’s needs, and how to love unconditionally.
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STARTING A CIVILIAN OUTREACH ACADEMY
In an effort to build bridges into the community while increasing awareness of the department’s work in Western Massachusetts, Sheriff Cocchi started a civilian outreach academy that runs twice a year.
The Sheriff and staff educate attendees on topics ranging from the opioid epidemic and how to administer Narcan to understanding what a day in the life of a correctional officer is really like.
The six-week academy also teaches participants how to save a life with CPR, and educates about gang awareness, personal security, and crime prevention.
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INCREASE JOB TRAINING AND AFTER CARE INITIATIVES TO REDUCE RECIDIVISM
From growing the training programs in advanced manufacturing to expanding the department’s reach into the good-paying tree-maintenance industry, Sheriff Cocchi has continued to grow the variety of ways the department can help someone transition into a successful, law-abiding life upon release.
During the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Sheriff Cocchi transformed the department’s industrial training program to produce life-saving personal protective equipment amid a national shortage.
An immersive training program while in custody paired with a growing number of partnerships with businesses in the region means respectable and reliable employment upon release. This is one of the key factors contributing to the Hampden County Sheriff’s Office continuing to have one of the lowest recidivism rates in the nation.
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EXPAND AFTERCARE ASSISTANCE TO EVERYONE IN HAMPDEN COUNTY
You shouldn’t have to go to jail to be connected with the best services around. That has been Sheriff Cocchi’s belief for years and since taking office he has opened the doors to the recently re-branded All-Inclusive Support Services center on State Street to anyone in need.
There, the dedicated AISS staff helps community members in need of anything from housing or a job to mental health and addiction-related services.
And during the rollout of the COVID-19 Vaccine, when many people were having trouble navigating a clunky state website to get an appointment, Sheriff Cocchi directed AISS staff to help anyone interested register for a vaccine.
And now 365 days a year, the AISS team stands ready to help the public regardless of a person’s past involvement with the justice system.
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COMMUNITY PATROLS TO ENHANCE PUBLIC SAFETY
As the role of the sheriff’s office has evolved from care while in custody to community outreach and crime prevention, Sheriff Cocchi has been deploying highly-trained deputy sheriffs around Hampden County to assist local police for you- the people of Western Massachusetts.
When the entire Blanford Police Department abruptly resigned in 2018, Sheriff Cocchi directed deputies to patrol the streets there to let the residents know they were not alone.
In 2019 when Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno asked for assistance in keeping the city’s flagship public space, Forest Park, safe for the summer, Sheriff Cocchi answered the call and deployed deputies.
What has resulted is a multi-faceted partnership that brings community policing tactics to Forest Park for two shifts a day for about nine months each year.
In the News:
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PROVIDING A REGIONAL LOCK-UP TO DECREASE COSTS AND INCREASE SAFETY
Upon taking office, Sheriff Cocchi expanded the department’s regional safe-keep program to safely house those arrested and accused of a crime until they can be arraigned on their charges.
Offered to the state police and law enforcement in all 23 cities and towns in Hampden County, the regional safe-keep program provides a safe environment for the accused where medical and mental health professionals can address their needs including medical issues, and free up local police officers to be on the streets.
With appreciation from local law enforcement who use the program, it is considered a win-win for the police departments of Hampden County and the citizens we all serve.
In the News: MassLive
YOUTHFUL OFFENDERS INITIATIVES
In 2019, we partnered up with the Hampden County District Attorney’s office to implement a strategy to help the young people being charged with serious crimes.
On our end, we opened a youthful offender pod at the House of Corrections where we developed programming designed to help a young person break free from the behaviors that brought them to us in the first place.
And early results indicate that a therapeutic approach while maintaining the firm but fair atmosphere helps these young people leave our custody to explore their options as law-abiding adults rather than reoffending and returning to jail.