By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Northborough – Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis was the guest speaker at the Northborough Dull Men’s Club June 4.
The sheriff’s presentation focused on the operations of his office, their K-9 program and his role as chair of the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport).
He told the audience that when people hear the word sheriff, they don’t really know what that means. People are surprised to find that sheriffs exist in the commonwealth. They also want to know why they are needed.
“We run the jail and the community correction centers and community programs in the Worcester County House and Jail,” he said.
On any given day there are 1,000-plus inmates in their jail that include pretrial detainees and those sentenced with a misdemeanor or less than a 2.5-year sentence. Those will go back to the House of Corrections where they work toward rehabilitation to return to society.
In addition to their corrections staff, the Sheriff’s Office also employs doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers, psychologists, therapist and legal counsel.
“I know what works and what doesn’t work and building jails, warehousing people and throwing the key away then letting them out doesn’t help them stay out of prison,” he noted. “So we have to find a better way and be smart on crime. We have a lot of programs where we don’t inmate people and we try to offer people help, but they have to meet us half way.”
He also highlighted their intensive six-month substance abuse program that inmates must earn their way into.
“They really get a chance to turn their lives around, but if they don’t cooperate, out they go,” he stated.
Evangelidis was pleased to speak about their K-9 program which includes adopted shelter dogs. This program virtually costs them nothing. One of their dogs was featured in a PBS program that was broadcast nationwide. The dogs are trained by the inmates and a by-product of this program is the mental health benefits to the inmates.
“Not only am I sheriff, but I am honored to serve on the Board of Massport. I was Governor Baker’s first appointment to the board after he was elected; it’s a seven-year appointment and it’s kind of a big deal,” Evangelidis noted.
He explained that now is an exciting time in the commonwealth; particularly with aviation, maritime and real estate developments in Boston.
For more information about the work of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, visit https://worcestercountysheriff.com/about/mission.