Sheriff should follow AG’s recommendations

Dec 22, 2020
To the editor:
After the May 1 event at the ICE detention center on the campus of the Bristol County House of Corrections, Sheriff Thomas Hodgson held a press conference at which he presented his own rather self-defensive, one-sided version of events characterizing the detainees as “bad people” and “rabble rousers” and himself as the guardian of the people who had done everything by the book.
Remember that Sheriff Hodgson consistently employs blanket descriptions of undocumented immigrants as “criminal illegal aliens” to imply a threat to all of us, when, in reality, coming into the country improperly is only a civil misdemeanor.
If the sheriff’s characterization were correct, this would make any one of us who missed a court date or forgot to pay a traffic ticket for any reason a criminal and a threat to the community.
Studies (even Homeland Security ones) show that undocumented people here, in trying to remain undetected, do not commit crimes that would result in shining a spotlight on themselves, and that communities with immigrant and undocumented residents experience less crime than those that don’t.
Not only did the sheriff declare on that day that there were video recordings to back his assertions, but that he would welcome an investigation, saying, “If we are falling short, we need to know why and what we can do to fix it.”
However, when Representative Kennedy called for one, Hodgson claimed it was politically motivated because the sheriff was Republican and Kennedy a Democrat, and then violated state law by denying a state senator entrance into the publicly owned facility to check things out for the same reason.
What was he hiding? We found out.
After a seven-month-long investigation by the office of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey determined that the Sheriff’s Office violated the civil rights of federal immigration detainees while responding to a disturbance in the ICE facility and made recommendations to prevent such violations  which the the sheriff said at his May 1 press conference he would welcome — his response was to state, “How dare she say she expects me to follow them.”
Such a fine example to our youth.
If a sheriff can say such things of the Attorney General, whose job is to act as an advocate and resource for the Commonwealth and its residents in many areas, including combating fraud and corruption, protecting consumers, protecting civil rights, and maintaining economic competition as the chief lawyer and law enforcement officer of the state, and announce his choice to ignore the office’s recommendations, how can we fault anyone who follows his very public example?
Why should any one of us follow any law enforcement or sheriff’s office directive if, like the sheriff, we do not agree with it?
Joe Quigley,
New Bedford