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By Andrea J. Cabral
Sheriff, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department
April 15, 2004

As Sheriff of Suffolk County, I am responsible for staffing the largest Sheriff’s Department in the Commonwealth. With an average attrition rate of 15 employees per month and consecutive decreases in fiscal appropriations for the last three years, we are consistently challenged to maintain adequate staffing levels. Chronic understaffing and the commensurate increases in overtime spending deplete our human resources and our budget. One of the most important ways we’ve met this challenge is by establishing reliable and comprehensive hiring practices.

Finalizing this process has been a central focus of my administration. The application, interview and testing procedures are rigorous, but fair. Applicants are evaluated on their responses to panel interview questions, physical and academic test scores and thorough background check results. I then personally interview every potential recruit who successfully completes this process and make a final hiring decision.

In conjunction with our new hiring practices, we have launched a new campaign aimed at recruiting qualified applicants to join our custody staff. We seek energetic, serious candidates who possess a diverse skill set and the desire to grow and learn from experienced veteran officers. Over the next several weeks, you may see one of our ads in this or another community newspaper or on MBTA trains. The posters depict three officers representing various roles and functions of corrections officers alongside a list of criteria for application.

Our goal is to attract 30 qualified recruits for our next Training Academy in June 2004. This class will be trained in our new facility in Chelsea, and, in a departure from the previous standard, will receive 225 hours of training before they begin work in any of our units. Cadets will receive physical training, instruction in interpersonal skills, defensive tactics and use of force techniques, firearm safety and handling, CPR, suicide prevention, courtroom testimony, ethics, professionalism and inmate education. Those who successfully graduate from the Academy become sworn corrections officers at a formal graduation and pinning ceremony.

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department provides the care, custody and control of inmates that keeps the public safe. By their professionalism and commitment to law enforcement, well-trained corrections officers can be role models and motivators for those in their charge. Along with our traditional responsibilities, our public safety efforts are increasingly focused on re-entry programs designed to decrease recidivism. Approximately 85 percent of the men and women incarcerated or awaiting trial in our facilities lives within five miles of those facilities. Between 250 and 300 inmates are granted parole or fully complete their sentences each month and return to the communities from which they came. Educational programs, employment and life skill training, especially if offered through re-entry programs, can and do lessen the chances that ex-offenders will re-offend. The commission of a single crime has a huge impact on the victim, the community and the criminal justice system. Good corrections officers are a crime prevention resource that Suffolk County needs.

If you have an interest in joining our team, call our Human Resources office at 617-635-1000 x6525, or check out our job application at http://inthisonemerchant.com/~scsdma/careers/