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July 29, 2011

CONTACT: Peter Van Delft
(617) 704-6682


Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department employees Cindy Wallent and Assistant Deputy Superintendent Paul DeFazio present before a Mass Sheriff’s Association training class.

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department (SCSD) and the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association recently completed a series of trainings developed to enhance the skills of employees in county corrections and law enforcement throughout the State of Massachusetts.

Led by SCSD Deputy Superintendent and Training Supervisor Yolanda Smith, the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association (MSA) hosted separate trainings in Plymouth and Holyoke during the MSA’s Training and Education Committee Annual Conference, which touched on a wide variety of subjects designed specifically for the many participants attending from the fourteen county sheriff’s departments and various local law enforcement entities.

Offering workshops that included such topics as: “Frequent Areas of Litigation in Corrections and Employee Civil Liability,” midlevel supervision, “Classification 101: Inmate Security Risk and Needs Assessment” and “Ground Survival Workshop”, members of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department facilitated a number of practical trainings, which – together with presentations by representatives from surrounding counties – provided a powerful resource for participants.

Presenting the workshop on Frequent Areas of Litigation in Corrections and Employee Civil Liability for the Plymouth training, SCSD Superintendent of the House of Correction and Special Sheriff Gerard Horgan talked about the benefits of offering extended training to others in the field of corrections.

“MSA training provides our staff, and those in other counties, an opportunity to learn best practices from corrections professionals across the state and gives us the opportunity to interact, brainstorm and network with them, ” said Superintendent Horgan. “I think this is crucial because it allows the Department to continue the professional development of a staff that is already highly professional.”

Speaking about his particular role in the training, Superintendent Horgan succinctly summed up the heart of his workshop in one word: “Respect.”

“Our role in this Sheriff’s Department is to provide care and custody for all people, treating everyone with respect and giving them the opportunity to better themselves while with us,” Horgan said. “We wanted to impress upon people that everyone in our custody is a family member. The man in the 3–4 Unit is a father, a brother, a son and the women up in the female units are mothers, daughters, and sisters. Treating everyone with respect, you get it back. But, because we do work in a litigious industry, certain areas of corrections tend to be more fertile soil for potential suits and we want people to be aware.”

Others presenting for the MSA trainings from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department were Assistant Deputy Superintendent Paul DeFazio, Lieutenant Thomas Donahue and Sergeant Jose Mojica.

As a member of the MSA’s Education and Training Committee and Chair of the Training Conferences, Deputy Superintendent Smith is tasked with knitting together workshops that are pertinent to the attending participants and the appropriate professionals who will be conducting them. During her time in this capacity, Deputy Superintendent Smith has worked to ensure the incremental growth that the trainings have experienced in recent years.

“The planning stages of the conferences are always hectic,” said Smith. “We have to think about quality, relevant topics and the ability to stretch funding. Luckily, we’ve had great volunteers who have helped out by donating their time as presenters the past few years, and the conferences keep getting better and better.”

“I am motivated to chair the conferences because of the networking and the wonderful feeling of satisfaction when the conferences are over,” Smith continued. “We are seeing attendees participate from Parole, Probation, and local police departments these days. Not only do we learn from the presenters, but we learn from each other, which is so important as we all strive to succeed in public safety.”

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