Senate Passes Sheriff’s Commission Recommendations

by | Aug 5, 2014

BOSTON- The Senate on Tuesday, July 29 unanimously passed a bill filed by Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury), Senate Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, regarding recommendations from last year’s Sheriff’s Commission. Senator Moore served as the Senate Chair of the Sheriff’s Commission, which was established by the Legislature to investigate and study many aspects of the Sheriffs’ Offices.

“The Sheriff’s Commission thoroughly examined and met with all 14 Sheriffs Offices to discuss the policies and practices of each office. This bill includes several recommendations from the Commission and will bring further transparency and oversight of the operations of the civil process for the Sheriffs and for better coordination of the state’s corrections system.”

The Sheriffs, which are elected officials, are independent state officials not subject to the jurisdiction of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) and are independent from the Department of Correction (DOC). To improve coordination and communications between the Sheriffs, EOPSS and DOC, the bill establishes the Corrections Advisory Board, which will be empowered to conduct reviews and recommend possible improvements of the state’s corrections system.

In order to increase transparency and oversight, the bill requires the Commonwealth’s Human Resources Division (HRD), in consultation with the Sheriffs and the Massachusetts Sheriffs Association and subject to appropriation, to conduct a comprehensive assessment of current Sheriff offices human resources policies and practices to standardize job titles and classification, job postings, minimum testing requirements and other employment practices for all 14 Sheriffs’ offices.

The bill also directs the Sheriffs to eliminate independent non-profit or for-profit civil process divisions and to perform civil process duties by a division run through each office. State law requires a Sheriff to serve and enforce civil process. Currently, 10 of the 14 Sheriffs’ Offices have absorbed civil process operations into their budgets. However, for the remaining 4 offices, civil process duties are performed by either non-profit or for-profit entities, outside the oversight of the state. The bill instructs that if a Sheriff wants to continue to outsource this activity, the service must be put out for a bid under a fair and transparent procurement process following state laws.

The bill will now go to the House for their consideration.