Middlesex Sheriff Peter J Koutoujian and Franklin County Sheriff Chris Donelan have been elected by their peers to serve as president and vice president of the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association (MSA).
“From Berkshire County to Essex County and beyond, each day sheriffs across the Commonwealth are making a difference in the lives of those we serve in our communities,” said President-elect Koutoujian. “Over the next two years I will work with my colleagues to support their efforts, while striving to better engage the public about our collective roles and responsibilities, as well as sheriffs’ work in tackling the factors that lead to criminal behavior, including substance use and mental illness.”
Sheriffs Koutoujian and Donelan, who were each sworn-in to their second terms as sheriff earlier this year, will assume their new posts in January.
“In this new role, I plan to be the face and voice of the incredible work Massachusetts Sheriffs are doing to combat addiction and help those suffering from mental illness and trauma,” said Vice President-elect Donelan. “Corrections has changed dramatically in just the last five years, and sheriffs in the Bay State are leaders in the modern corrections movement.”
Appointed Sheriff by Governor Deval Patrick in January 2011, Sheriff Koutoujian won election to office in 2012 and reelection in 2016. Prior to assuming office, he served as an assistant district attorney in the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and went on to serve 14 years in the Legislature representing the cities of Waltham, Watertown and Newton.
As a member of the Legislature, Sheriff Koutoujian chaired the Joint Committee on Public Health and later the Joint Committee on Financial Services. He has also been deeply involved in efforts to address the opioid epidemic, chairing the first Massachusetts OxyContin and Other Drug Abuse Commission in 2005.
Since assuming office in 2011, Sheriff Koutoujian has worked with the Legislature to pass legislation allowing for greater continuity of medical care for individuals leaving incarceration and created the Commonwealth’s only unit for incarcerated military Veterans. The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office has also been designated as a Center of Innovation by the National Institute of Corrections for its medication assisted treatment program for individuals with opioid use disorders.
Recognized this year as a “Champion of Justice Reform” by the Coalition for Public Safety, Sheriff Koutoujian is a member of both the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) and Major County Sheriffs’ Association (MCSA), as well as a founding member of Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime & Incarceration.
First elected in 2010, Sheriff Donelan was reelected in 2016. He began his career working as a police officer and probation officer in western Massachusetts before serving four terms in the Legislature. While representing the 2nd Franklin District, he served on several committees including the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security and the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse.
As sheriff, Vice President-elect Donelan has implemented a number of initiatives aimed at addressing the opioid crisis, including initiating a medication assisted treatment program for individuals in his custody and co-founding the Franklin County Opioid Task Force.
The MSA fosters and facilitates cooperative relationships among the Commonwealth’s 14 sheriffs' offices. It also works to promote a greater understanding of the matters impacting the sheriffs' offices and to bring together other law enforcement and criminal justice professionals and practitioners to increase cooperation and demonstrate strategies that can be utilized to improve the public safety of all Massachusetts communities.