DARTMOUTH, Mass. (WPRI) — Paul Heroux was sworn in Tuesday night as the new sheriff of Bristol County.
Heroux, a Democrat who most recently served as mayor of Attleboro, gave his inaugural address at Durfee High School in Fall River. He takes over for Republican Thomas Hodgson, who held the position since 1997.
In his inaugural address, Heroux outlined his plans to restructure the sheriff’s office. Heroux said he plans to appoint directors of inmate services, security, budget, finance, and administration.
“I ask that you be patient with those changes, waiting for those changes,” he said. “I’ve heard the concerns. I’ve recorded everything. Now, I’m going to address those concerns. I take thing seriously, but I do not overreact. I’m going to act on things that can be proven, and I’m going to be fair.”
Heroux also vowed to measure the rate of recidivism and effectiveness of programs geared towards reducing recidivism.
“If it is not already being done, we are going to set inmates up with housing, health care, and a job,” Heroux said. “These are the pillars of successful prisoner reentry.”
Heroux also addressed suicides in county jails. Hodgson faced backlash in October after an inmate died by suicide in a New Bedford jail.
“I am also going to closely look at the high rate of suicide,” Heroux said. “I have never promised to stop all suicides, but it is my hope that we can reduce the rate. During the campaign I said I am going to bring in qualified outside help to look at this. I will.”
Among Heroux’s other plans are training homeless veterans to work in corrections and opening up facilities to educational tours for the public.
“It’s about working with people who might not have ever had that first chance in life, who many in society have disdain for,” Heroux said. “It’s about giving hope to the families of the incarcerated. It’s about giving a sense of purpose to the people who work in corrections. It’s about giving pride to the people who live in our community that we are doing something that, although they may not see, is a benefit to them and their loved ones.”
“I may have been one side’s candidate, but now I am everyone’s sheriff,” he added.