Jan 5, 2015
Friday, January 2, 2015
Sheriff Evangelidis swears in 25 new correction officers
Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis with 25 new correction officers at the recent graduation ceremony held at Anna Maria College.
PAXTON — Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis recently welcomed 25 new correction officers to the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office during a graduation ceremony at Anna Maria College.
East Brookfield resident Officer Kevin Gatto and Leicester residents Officer Matthew Champagne and Officer Matthew Guinee were part of the 42nd Graduating Class of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office Basic Recruit Training Academy.
The group, which also included four military servicemen, were the seventh class to graduate under Sheriff Evangelidis’ new increased hiring standards, which he introduced shortly after taking office.
Since taking office, Evangelidis has made significant changes to the hiring standards in order to professionalize the department. All correctional officer applicants must have, at minimum, an associates degree or at least two years of military service. They must also take and pass a written exam, physical fitness test, background check and psychological screening test. Evangelidis has also implemented a policy that prohibits the acceptance of letters of recommendation from politicians, while U.S. military applicants are given priority status in the hiring process.
“Today, we welcome the 25 new recruits of the 42nd Graduating Class of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office. Our new officers have met the highest hiring standards and have completed the finest training academy in Massachusetts.” Evangelidis continued, “With over 6,200 inmates going through the jail doors each year, we look for the best individuals we can find to make our community a safer place and to ensure the public safety of our citizens. Corrections is a hard job with significant challenges; our success although difficult to quantify will be measured by the crimes that are never committed.”
During the 12-week academy, recruits are taught to handle the daily challenges of safely keeping the care, custody, and control of inmates incarcerated at the Worcester County Jail & House of Correction. Classroom topics include legal issues, mental health in a correctional setting, staff/inmate interaction, security/emergency procedures, interpersonal communication skills, and use of force regulations.
In addition, instructors use hands-on training to teach defensive tactics, fire safety, use of restraint, searches, driver training, weapons qualification and physical fitness is held daily. Students are also quizzed on policy weekly and recruits must maintain an academic average of at least 70 percent in order to graduate.
Also during the academy, the recruits performed community service providing toys for the Plant the Seed Foundation, assisting with the ninth annual Sheriff’s Food Drive and running as a unit in the 2014 5K Turkey Trot, which benefitted the National Alopecia Foundation.
“All 25 of you graduating here today should be very proud, as you have demonstrated hard work and dedication over the past 12 weeks in overcoming the challenges presented. I look forward to working with each and everyone of you,” said Evangelidis.
Dec 19, 2014
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Two Sheriff’s Deputies Honored for Bravery at I-495 Crash
Worcester County Deputy Sheriffs Frank Crosby, left, and Robert Noonan Jr., stand next to their transport van Wednesday.
WEST BOYLSTON — It all happened in a flash.
With flames flaring 12 feet high, and a truck at risk for explosion, the two correctional officers waiting for emergency personnel to arrive in a life-threatening situation said it felt like an eternity.
By all accounts, July 14 was just like any other day for Worcester County Deputy Sheriffs Robert J. Noonan Jr. and Frank J. Crosby. The two have been partners for almost three years and spend the majority of their days driving inmates all over the state for out-of-county court hearings.
At about 3 p.m. that day, the two men were driving on Interstate 495 north in Marlboro, about a mile from Exit 25A for Interstate 290, with three Worcester County Jail and House of Correction prisoners in the back. The officers suddenly saw motorists pulling over as a pickup truck soared from the far right lane to the far left and rolled over. The truck was on the side landed right side up in an embankment, with the driver unconscious.
Officers Noonan and Crosby pulled over with their blue lights flashing. Officer Noonan jumped out to run over to the truck while Officer Crosby stayed back with the prisoners. Officer Noonan struggled to get the truck driver free. Alone in the truck, the victim was motionless, his foot still hitting the accelerator and the truck’s wheels spinning ferociously.
“Debris was flying everywhere,” Officer Noonan recalled. “The victim was in a crushed cab and it was all around him. His injuries were pretty severe. I tried opening the door. … Everything was just flying and flying.”
Then the front of the truck caught on fire. Officer Noonan took out his fire extinguisher and struggled to beat back the flames. By the time the fire was out, the rear of the truck began to blaze again and Officer Noonan’s knew his extinguisher was empty. The officer said his mind was racing, while the victim, a 49-year-old from Chelmsford, was still trapped and landscaping equipment around them was at risk of exploding.
“There was just nothing I could do,” Officer Noonan said. “I really (wanted) to make sure he did not suffer. If he had a fighting chance at all, I wanted to make sure he had that opportunity.”
By now, seven or eight drivers had pulled over on the highway and were out of their cars, rushing down to see what they could do to help. The officers yelled at the crowd to stay back and asked them to try to find fire extinguishers. Witnesses ran up and down stopped traffic, asking for any tools other drivers had available. The helping hands brought extinguishers to Officer Crosby, who was flagging down truckers for assistance. Officer Crosby even found a man with a case of bottled water, and he tossed bottles to Officer Noonan “like footballs” to douse the flames.
“It started out with white smoke and it just turned black,” Officer Crosby said.
When emergency personnel and firefighters arrived about 15 or 20 minutes later, according to the officers, the men stepped aside and left to make sure the inmates in their van got back to the West Boylston jail. The victim in the single-vehicle rollover crash, identified later as Philip Perdikis, was determined by officials to have died at the crash site from his injuries.
Both Officer Noonan and Officer Crosby received the American Correctional Association Life Saving Award at the organization’s conference last month in Nashville, Tennessee, along with medals of honor for their efforts in the incident.
Seated in Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis’ office this week, the deputies were filled with emotion as they recounted every moment in great detail. The duo said they were confident in knowing they did everything they could to try to save Mr. Perdikis; they noted they never heard from the man’s family or made contact with them.
Sheriff Evangelidis called the men’s efforts nothing short of heroic and said their actions reflect well on the entire department.
“The important thing I’d like people to understand is how hard correctional officers work. … Everybody in law enforcement works hard, but sometimes correctional officers aren’t recognized in that way,” he said. “This is an example of correctional officers going above and beyond the call of duty.”
Officer Noonan, 48, of Worcester, and Officer Crosby, 51, of Holden, say the incident brought them closer, though they were always great friends. Officer Noonan has been with the department for 19 years and Officer Crosby for 25.
“We definitely have a brotherly relationship right now,” Officer Crosby said. “We’ve gone through the good, the bad and the ugly and he’s still there.”
The two deputy sheriffs say they thoroughly enjoy their jobs and the opportunity to work together. They put hundreds of miles on their car daily, and switching off driving each day so neither one gets tired of it.
“If I had to have a partner, I’d like Frank,” Officer Noonan added. “He has a good heart.”
Dec 19, 2014
Sheriff Warns Residents to Beware of IRS Scam
December 18, 2014
Dec 18, 2014
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Worcester County Officials: Communities Dealing with a ‘Vaping’ Problem
By Kim Ring TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
INHALING FROM ELECTRONIC CIGARETTE
Area lawmakers and health officials are concerned that e-cigarettes
and so-called “vape” pens are landing in the hands of children.
WEST BOYLSTON — They may look like teenagers bent over a book in the library or grabbing things from their locker or ducking into the restroom with a pen in their mouth.
But in reality, the pen might be a device used to inhale vapors from the strongest form of THC, the chemical in marijuana that creates the high feeling people get when they use it.
“Oh, it’s very disturbing,” Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis said. “We’re trying to stay ahead of the curve with this.”
The sheriff’s programs have reached 120,000 students, but he now also wants parents to know what to look for if they suspect their child might be dabbling with drugs, and the new trend of “vaping,” as it’s called, has him worried.
“A year ago, the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year was selfie,” Sheriff Evangelidis said. “This year’s word is vape, and most people don’t know what it means but I’m afraid a year from now a lot of people will know it.”
The word vape dates back to 1983 when a article in “New Society” described a hypothetical device that could allow for the inhaling of vapors, the Oxford Dictionary’s website states. In 2009 the word began appearing in “mainstream sources,” the dictionary’s website explains.
Vaping comes from the growing popularity of electronic cigarettes, something that in itself has health workers including Chief of Community Health in Worcester, Karyn E. Clark, concerned because the nicotine delivery devices aren’t regulated and are widely available and target young people.
The packaging for e-cigarettes and nicotine products sometimes mimics the bright colors and displays of candy, Mrs. Clark said. Young children are being increasingly exposed to liquid nicotine, which doesn’t come in child-proof containers and there are other dangers, as well.
There is also an impression that the vapor cigarettes are safer than smoking traditional tobacco products but the FDA hasn’t given approval for the devices and the long-term effects of vaping aren’t yet known, she said.
These days vaping has also come to mean inhaling vapors of THC three times stronger than those found in marijuana rolled into joints to be smoked. That process involves something users call a g-cigarette and “dabs,” “Oil,” “710” or “shatter;” small, sticky pieces of concentrated THC or an oily substance; all made using marijuana plants, butane, heat and parts easily found at hardware stores.
“It’s the most high you’ll ever get from smoking weed,” 24-year-old Zach said. He smoked dabs the first time before a planned golf outing and arrived at the course so stoned he had to go home. He slept for a while afterwards.
“It’s like smoking the whole joint in one hit,” he said.
Zach is clean now, part of the sheriff’s Community Connections program, but he’s doubtful he would have stopped using if he hadn’t gotten into trouble. He lost a good career as a tradesman and is trying to find a new direction for his life.
And while he doesn’t think vaping led him to higher level street drugs, he developed a Percocet addiction after an injury and when he couldn’t get the “percs” anymore, he turned to heroin. Despite his longtime fear of needles, he eventually began shooting up.
Brittney is 21. Her hair and makeup are perfect and it would probably come as a surprise to someone seeing her for the first time that when she wanted to be cool in high school she started smoking pot. Then she vaped.
“I was good after two hits,” she said. “I wasn’t really functionable. I wasn’t like trying to see my parents or anything.”
She said she wouldn’t recommend driving a car as high as she was and she suspects kids who are vaping in school are probably half asleep at their desks.
She believes that marijuana is a gateway drug and while she would rather smoke a joint than vape, she, too, ended up using heroin, had no self-esteem and said she sometimes didn’t care if she lived or died. She wound up in trouble and through the sheriff’s program is managing to stay sober.
Both former users said they don’t recommend getting involved with drugs at all and warned that anyone about to make the leap from pot to opioids ought to rethink that choice and get help.
The sheriff said he believes students could be vaping and doing it around unsuspecting adults. The pens used to vape are smokeless, pretty much odorless and it takes just a few seconds to “take a hit.”
The concentrate being vaped allows drug dealers to use the entire marijuana plant to make the dabs or shatter. Parts of the plant that would normally be discarded are stripped down with butane and made into the material for vaping, so marijuana growers get more bang for their buck, Zach explained.
A gram of dabs or shatter costs about $50, the same as an eight of a gram of leafy pot purchased in a bag for smoking, Zach said.
The fact that the vaping pens and the dabs or shatter are so readily available, are unregulated and can be easily used without drawing attention which, Sheriff Evangelidis said, is something parents should know.
“We’re trying to raise awareness of this,” he said. “There are always new developments in the drug culture. We’ve seen Molly, heroin and now this, and the kids usually know a lot about it before we do.”
Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis holds a vape pen while discussing
how vaping THC is the new dangerous trend among young people.