Sheriff denounces termination of ICE contract

May 21, 2021

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said he is considering legal action against the Department of Homeland Security following its decision to cancel his office’s contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Thursday.

At a May 21 press conference, the sheriff claimed that the federal agency violated its contract with the sheriff’s office by not providing 60 days’ notice of their decision, adding that the decision was a “political hit based on lies.”

“This is the rollback they’ve been planning for a while,” Hodgson said. “I knew this was coming, it didn’t surprise me.”

According to Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Jonathan Darling, all seven of the facility’s remaining detainees were transferred to the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office. 

“As of right now, we don’t have any more ICE folks in our custody,” he said.

In a memo to Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said his agency closed the facility because of “ample evidence that the Detention Center’s treatment of detained individuals and the conditions of detention are unacceptable.”

Last May, three detainees were hospitalized following an altercation at the Faunce Corner Road facility. The incident is currently under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security.

In her report, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey found that Hodgson and his staff violated their own internal policies and protocols around de-escalation and the use of canine units.

The report also states that staff deployed pepper spray, extended-range batons, and flash bang grenades against detainees.

According to the sheriff, everything his officers did during the altercation was “by the book.” 

“This was a standard operation,” he said. “My guys did exactly what they should have done.”

Mayorkas also wrote that the Dartmouth facility is of “minimal operational significance to the agency.”

“That’s a lie,” Hodgson said. “It is operationally necessary.”

The sheriff also claimed that he was hit by a chair during the incident and “had a neck injury for a year.”

The AG’s report stated that unlike the other instances of chair-throwing, what the sheriff described was not captured on the surveillance video. 

“We have no reason to disbelieve Sheriff Hodgson’s account, which was corroborated by one other corrections officer,” the report read. “But, in the absence of independent corroborating evidence, we cannot conclude with any degree of reasonable certainty that a chair struck Sheriff Hodgson.”

Along with housing detainees, the office’s participation in the 287(g) program — which deputized county officials to conduct limited immigration enforcement action — was also terminated. 

Sheriff’s deputies will also no longer transport detainees to courthouses or the ICE’s regional headquarters in Burlington, Mass. 

Although his official ICE contract has ended, the sheriff said that he will continue “to do everything I possibly can” to identify any undocumented immigrants populating his jails and report them to ICE.

“We’ll be limited further, but not completely,” he said.