Sheriff urges Homeland Security to reinstate ICE contract

Jun 3, 2021

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson is petitioning the Department of Homeland Security to reinstate his office’s relationship with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and apologize to the sheriff’s office staff, calling the contract termination with his office last month “unjust, dangerous and flat-out wrong.”

“Your false claims and politically motivated attack have cast a dark cloud over the public safety and law enforcement professionals at the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office,” Hodgson wrote in a letter addressed to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on June 2. “They deserve an apology.”

A copy of the letter was also sent to President Joe Biden.

On May 20, the federal agency announced ICE would immediately terminate its partnership with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office and relocate the Dartmouth facility’s remaining detainees to Plymouth. 

In a memo to Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson, 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.”

“Where is your ‘ample’ evidence of ‘unacceptable’ conditions? There isn’t any, because my staff go above and beyond the highest standards of care and custody,” Hodgson wrote.

In May of 2020, 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 Bristol County officers responded with “excessive and disproportionate” force, including the use of “so much pepper spray...that two detainees were taken to the hospital with symptoms of respiratory distress.”

Hodgson’s letter called the report from Healey’s office “deeply flawed and politically motivated,” adding that the AG is “desperately trying to rally support from the Democratic base ahead of her upcoming gubernatorial campaign.”

Healey has not announced a bid for governor.

The sheriff also requested that Mayorkas reinstate the Dartmouth jail’s participation in the 287(g) program — which deputized county officials to conduct limited immigration enforcement action — and to deliver a plaque he said Homeland Security made in recognition of the sheriff’s office staff passing a recent 287(g) audit.

“They deserve the award DHS made for them,” Hodgson wrote. “Please do the right thing and let them have it.”