Opinion: Sheriff’s response helped prevent more serious outcome

Apr 23, 2023

To the editor: It has been reported that there were no injuries  to the rioters and none to the staff or responding officers.  No dogs growling and intimidating the participants, nor the incarcerated men who were not involved.

Sheriff Paul Heroux, who is an advocate of de-escalation techniques, set the tone and prevented an outcome that may have taken lives and caused serious injury. Not trying to sugarcoat the situation and minimize the damage caused by the ringleaders, the sheriff transparently announced the estimated cost of the destruction of property.  Heroux also immediately explained that the removal of the men from two units, with the intention to improve the quality and safety of the cells, was the primary cause of this uprising.

There is no excuse for the destructive and threatening response of the men who instigated, or actively participated in this riot, and who are now re-assigned to other facilities in Massachusetts. The sheriff indicated that there will be an investigation and possible criminal charges brought against those involved. And the irony of the situation is not lost on Sheriff Heroux. The reason for the removal was to remodel the cells to install individual toilets and newly crafted beds to reduce suicides.  

Heroux repeatedly indicated, that, if elected, he would concentrate his attention on suicide reduction, the safety and rehabilitation of the incarcerated, respect for his staff and the implementation of procedures for the de-escalation of situations as just occurred.

Those are some of the mandated responsibilities of Massachusetts sheriffs and Paul Heroux intends to abide by his commitments and to keep the public informed every step of the way.

Betty Ussach