Press Release

Sep 19, 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.

 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

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.

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.


Sep 19, 2014

Heroin: From Prescription To Addiction (Part 2)

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.

Sep 16, 2014

‘The eyes don’t lie’: Worcester County Sheriff Implements Iris Scan at Nelson Place School to Safeguard Children


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

“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 

Iris Scan

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

and can be used to quickly identify children who are either lost or may have been abducted.

“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.”

Iris Scan

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

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.

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

Sep 16, 2014

Mass. Student Iris Scans Entered in National Missing Person’s Database

Mass. student iris scans entered in national missing person’s database


Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 6:40pm

(NECN: Siobhan Lopez, Worcester, Mass.) – It takes less than a minute to enter a child’s information into a national missing person’s database. All it takes is a photo, some general information like height and weight, and a quick scan of your eyes.


“The eyes don’t lie,” said Lewis Evangelidis, the Worcester City sheriff. “The eyes are the identification.”


It’s a part of Evangelidis’ child ID iris scan program.


The camera captures an up-close look at the iris, which is the colored part of the eye.


The sheriff says the iris is ten times more identifiable than a fingerprint. It’s the one part of the body that will never change.


“Fingerprints wear out, fingerprints can be compromised. Your iris cannot be,” he explained.


Sheriff Evangelidis has been using the program with senior citizens for years. Wednesday was the first time it’s been brought to a public school.


Close to 500 Nelson Place School students lined up to get their picture taken. The students are days away from summer vacation. The sheriff says it’s a perfect time to get their information in the system.


“This iris scan is a national database, so if you travel in the summer and something was to happen, you’d be part of that database in any local law enforcement no matter where you were,” Evangelidis explained.


Evangelidis also uses iris scans at the Worcester County House of Corrections to identify inmates.  He calls the technology the next generation of identification, but says it shouldn’t replace traditional child ID kits that use fingerprints.


“You know it’s always good if you’ve got the potential to have a safety kit with fingerprinting. I’d recommend that too,” he said.