Newspaper

Jul 22, 2014

Sheriff Reflects on Visit to Texas to Study Illegal Immigration

7/19/2014

Sheriff Reflects on Visit to Texas to Study Illegal Immigration 

Kimberly Petalas
News Staff Writer

REGION — Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis recently joined Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson on a trip to McAllen, Texas, to get a better look at the immigration issues that are currently facing the nation. 


“This was really an opportunity for a fact-finding mission to see what was going on at the border,” Sheriff Evangelidis said while sitting in the airport waiting for his flight home. “People are being relocated up to Massachusetts. Now, we are a defacto border state and I feel that we should all know what is going on.”

Sheriff Evangelidis said he saw many flaws at the border as far as the United States policy is concerned.

“It was obvious that there is such a failed policy in this country that is driving the entire situation right now,” he said. “We have adopted a policy where if you get to American soil, you are essentially processed and then released.”

In speaking with local sheriffs, Texas safety patrol and customs and border patrol, the sheriff said the number of people coming in and being processed has already doubled last year’s numbers, and it is only July.

“Over 215,000 people are processed at this center we visited,” he said. “They basically volunteer themselves to be processed. They are then turned over to ICE — Immigration and Customs Enforcement — who bring them to airports, bus stations or train stations. They are given a form that says they have to appear in front of an officer in approximately 90 days and then released. They are basically given free ability to travel in the U.S.”

Local officials informed the sheriff that 99 percent of those people do not appear 90 days later.

Sheriff Evangelidis said that in conjunction with America’s failed policies, the Mexican drug cartel is adding fuel to the fire.

“The drug cartel is exploiting people and America’s failed policies to convince people to do work for them,” he said. “They are promoting America’s lack of enforcement to tell people that now is the time to come over the border. They are basically making billions of dollars and leaving the problems in our laps.”

Sheriff Evangelidis and Sheriff Hodgson were also brought on a tour of the border as part of their fact-finding trip.

“We got to experience it firsthand,” said Sheriff Evangelidis. “We saw it from the Rio Grande River and also an aerial view. We also met with border volunteers. I think they believe they are being unfairly blamed. The people we spoke to were working very hard and using all available resources. They just have no enforcement of existing laws behind them.”

The sheriff said the federal government needs to begin working on a solution to the illegal immigration issue.

“I think we need a multipronged approach,” he said. “First, we need to secure our borders. Second, we need to enforce our existing laws and third, we need to hold people accountable inside our country, such as employers that continue to promote working illegally.”

In Worcester County, the sheriff said he plans on informing the residents in his district about the ongoing issues facing both the state and the country as a whole.

“We’re going to speak with the Sheriff’s Association about what we learned,” he said. “We will also keep tabs on what is going on here to see if there is any increase related to the issue and come up with ways to combat that.”

Jul 2, 2014

Evangelidis Heads Back to School with Lesson on Making Smart Choices

By Sandy Quadros Bowles

Worcester County Sherriff Lewis Evangelidis returned to the middle school he attended to deliver a sobering message to the seventh and eighth graders.
Statistically, not all of them will survive to graduate from high school.

 

Eight teens die every day in an accident involving drunken driving, he told them. One in four deaths in the U.S. involves substance abuse, specifically alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs.

 

“Once you get high, it changes everything,’’ he said to the assembly June 12 at Mountview Middle School. “You hang out with different people, do different drugs, start doing dumb things. You can go to prison because of choices you made.’’

 

He said that 90 percent of the 1,100 inmates at the Worcester County House of Correction in West Boylston, which Evangelidis supervises, landed there because of issues with drugs or alcohol.

 

 Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis shows Mountview Middle School students the durable but less than comfortable uniforms the inmates wear at the Worcester County House of Correction.  Joyce Roberts photo  
Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis shows Mountview Middle School students the durable but less than comfortable uniforms the inmates wear at the Worcester County House of Correction. Joyce Roberts photo.

 

Many inmates tell him they wish someone had warned them while they were in middle school about the results of drugs and alcohol. They often offer to share their stories with young people in hopes they don’t make the same mistake.

 

Inmates have told him “I wish I could go out and tell them, but I can’t, because I’m in jail,’’ he said.

 

And that is not an easy experience, Evangelidis said. Inmates have no privacy, even when they are using the toilet. The toilets have no seats, because they could be used as weapons. Towels are also forbidden, he said, because inmates could use them to choke themselves or others. The uniforms are selected for durability rather than comfort, which students learned by touching the fabric of a uniform he brought to the assembly.

 

Just one experience with drugs can start a downhill cycle, he said. And today’s young people face even more potential hazards, he said. They have been called “Generation Rx,’’ he said.

 

Prescription drugs have become a major problem, he said. Nearly as many people used prescription drugs as they did marijuana in 2010, according to the DEA. “And the problem is worse now,’’ four years later, he said.

 

Young people today have been known to host “Skittles parties,’’ when young people empty their parents’ medicine cabinets, place the contents in a bowl and encourage guests to take a random handful.

 

These pills can be harmful, even fatal, he said. He quoted an addict who described Oxycontin as “worse than crack … the worst drug out there.’’

 

He also expressed concerns about “Molly,’’ a drug often associated with clubs and partying. In an incident that happened after Evangelidis’ talk, more than 30 people were hospitalized with symptoms linked to the use of Molly after a Boston concert by the electronic dance artist Avicci.

 

The drug can also cause a rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, blood vessel constriction and sweating, and can prevent the body from regulating temperature. Some of the chemicals have been reported to cause intense, prolonged panic attacks, psychosis and seizures.

 

Singer Miley Cyrus, whose music is popular with teens and young adults, references the drug in her song “We Can’t Stop,” which includes a line about “dancing with molly.”

 

Glamorizing such drugs can lull young people into a false sense of security, he said.

 

If talking about the problem did not work, Evangelidis also showed the effects that drugs can take on people’s looks. He showed before-and-after pictures of addicts, depicting when they started their addictions and then about two years later, when their often scarred, pockmarked faces seemed to age by decades.

 

The students even saw a familiar face among the examples: Science teacher Wayne Boisselle volunteered to have his face digitally altered to show the ravages of substance abuse.

 

 The image of Mountview Middle School science teacher Wayne Boisselle is digitally altered to demonstrate the toll that drug use can take on a person’s appearance.  Joyce Roberts photo

 

The image of Mountview Middle School science teacher Wayne Boisselle is digitally altered to demonstrate the toll that drug use can take on a person’s appearance. Joyce Roberts photo

 

Evangelidis hopes through this program that young people can learn early about the dangers and will make the right decisions going forward.

 

“Your choices matter,’’ he said.

Jun 24, 2014

Heroin: From Prescription To Addiction

June 23, 2014

BOSTON (CBS) – Efforts to tackle the state’s drug addiction epidemic are being made on several fronts.

“No one will tell you when they offer you a prescription painkiller that it can so easily turn into a needle in your arm in six months or less. No one will tell you that,” said Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis.

But Evangelidis says he hears that story every single day and can recite it in 15 seconds which he does during his face to face outreach program at Worcester County Public Schools.

Evangelidis says, “Nobody believes me and then I say to them: ‘I was in the middle of high school, started doing drugs, got addicted so my family kicked me out because I was stealing from them. So I went to my friend’s house, stealing from my friends so he kicked me out. So I went down the street, robbed my neighbor, got arrested and went to prison.’”

Tommy Lee Goddard is 26, doing 18 months for restaurant B and E’s to support his drug habit. Sober now, he says the demons linger. “Something that’s always there like I dream about it and I wake up and I’m like “oh God.” Honestly, I don’t want to do it. It’s just something that follows me,” Goddard says.

Worcester County’s community service program is helping him transition to a drug free life. On a recent rainy afternoon, he was blazing a new trail for the Mass Audubon’s Broad Meadow Brook Sanctuary.

And even sopping wet. Tommy Lee was very upbeat.

“I love this program,” Goddard says. “It gives me time to think about what I’ve done. It gives me improvement on my skill set. It gives me time to pay back to the community for everything I took from them.”

Sheriff Evangelidis calls the community service program a win-win.

“Every time you visit a site like you just did you, you see incredible work being done, such appreciation from the community and then you see at the same time the inmates benefit—never seen a program that saves millions of dollars and turns people’s lives around,” Evangelidis says.

Jun 23, 2014

‘The Eyes Don’t Lie’: Worcester County Sheriff Implements Iris Scan at Nelson Place School to Safeguard Children

Lew<br />
 Evangelidis

Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis scans the iris of Nelson Place School student Liam McGinn. (Sam Bonacci, MassLive.com)

 

WORCESTER — The Worcester County Sheriff’s Department brought its iris scan program to Worcester’s Nelson Place School with hundreds of students being added to a national registry.

“The iris is ten times more identifiable than a finger print … it is the next wave of identification. It is extraordinarily identifiable. Your iris can never be compromised,” said Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis who explained the scans can be used to identify lost or kidnapped children easily. He added, “The eyes don’t lie.”

The department has been using the iris scanning program for years among the county’s seniors where thousands of adults with Alzheimer’s or dementia have been scanned. The program has been used among children at fairs and community events, but for the first time the sheriff brought the program to a Worcester public school. The program is free to those who sign up and can be used to quickly identify children who are either lost or may have been abducted.

Iris Scan

“We try to see in what ways we can improve the safety for the community and this seemed like a no-brainer. We have the technology and have been using it for seniors and why not extend it to children,” said Evangelidis who has joined 1,300 other sheriff’s departments implementing this technology with children. “In the end, it’s another tool for public safety.”

The eyes are ten times more identifiable than a finger print and can be used to help identify missing or abducted children. Sam Bonacci, MassLive.com 

The Child Project national registry is maintained by the Missing Children Organization, a non-profit based in Phoenix. Once digital photos of the children’s eyes are made, the data is analyzed and a 688 byte code is created and put into the database. Any law enforcement agency with the proper equipment – which is now prevalent, according to Evangelidis – can easily scan a child’s eyes and get an identification along with contact information for the child’s parents.

The process requires children to have two pictures taken, one of their eyes and one regular digital photo for identification purposes. Parents must sign off on the program, according to the sheriff’s department, and the iris information is erased from the system once the child turns 18.

Iris Scan

Catherine Taylor has her eyes scanned at the Nelson Place School by members of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Department. Sam Bonacci, MassLive.com 

For more information about the program, to sign a child or senior up or inquire about getting the program into a school, people may contact the Sheriff’s Community Outreach Coordinator Shawn McKenna at (508) 723-4582 or smckenna@sdw.state.ma.us.

1 2 3 47