Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian has officially completed his tenure as President of the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association (MSA) after leading the organization for the past three years.
Elected in October 2017, President Koutoujian’s tenure was originally slated to conclude at the end of 2019. MSA Presidents traditionally do not serve longer than a single two-year term, but Sheriff Koutoujian was asked to serve an additional year by his colleagues in order to synchronize the MSA presidential term with the legislature’s session.
“I want to thank my colleagues for the faith they placed in me as President. I especially thank outgoing Vice President Sheriff Chris Donelan for his thoughtful partnership over the past three years,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “During our tenure we worked closely with the legislature and the Baker Administration on some of the most important legislation impacting the criminal justice system in decades. Sheriffs do this job because we want to help those we serve; I am proud to have helped advance that goal over the last three years.”
Sheriff Koutoujian has been succeeded by Suffolk County Sheriff Steven W. Tompkins as President. Sheriff Donelan has been succeeded by Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi as Vice President.
“As Sheriffs Tompkins and Cocchi begin their tenure, I look forward to working with them to build upon the foundation of collaboration and professionalism that have been the hallmark of MSA’s approach to enhancing public safety and improving outcomes for those in our custody, their families and our communities,” said Sheriff Koutoujian.
“Over his tenure as MSA President, Sheriff Koutoujian helped us to shepherd through a number of changes that impacted not only our collective organization as a whole, but our individual county operations as well,” said Sheriff Tompkins. “We are all thankful for his service to the MSA and appreciative of his great efforts to advance our mission. And, as I take the baton, I look forward to expanding upon those efforts alongside Sheriff Cocchi and MSA Executive Director Carrie Hill as we continue to elevate the work of the MSA.”
During his term as president, the MSA worked with State Senator William Brownsberger (D – Second Suffolk and Middlesex) and State Representative Claire Cronin (D – 11th Plymouth) on the historic 2018 criminal justice reform bill. The bill included changes to restrictive housing within jails and prisons; created a special commission to study the prevention of suicide among correction officers; expressly authorized the establishment of specialized housing units for individuals ages 18 – 24 (which the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office had previously opened); and created a mechanism for medical parole, among other key provisions.
Medical parole had been a top priority for Sheriff Koutoujian since 2013 when he began working with State Senator Patricia Jehlen (D – Second Middlesex) on passage.
Under his leadership, the MSA also worked with the Baker Administration, State Senator Cindy Friedman (D – Fourth Middlesex) and State Representative Denise Garlick (D – 13th Norfolk) on the passage and implementation of legislation establishing a landmark medication assisted treatment pilot program involving seven sheriffs’ offices. Under the law, those entering custody in one of those seven counties on an FDA-approved MAT regimen have the ability to continue that regimen unless determined otherwise by a qualified addiction specialist. Sentenced inmates not on a verified MAT regimen at the time of their commitment may also be evaluated for participation 30 days prior to their scheduled release.
For the past year, Sheriff Koutoujian served concurrently as president of both MSA and the Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA). As MCSA President, Sheriff Koutoujian leads an association comprised of sheriffs of over 100 of the nation’s most populous counties. He will serve as MCSA President through the end of 2021.