Ensuring Equal Treatment for Women
When Sheriff Jerry McDermott was first appointed in 2018, women in Norfolk County who were justice involved were housed at MCI Framingham and were unable to receive the same programing and services as men. To eliminate the unfair and unequal treatment of women, Sheriff Jerry had the women moved from Framingham to a county facility.
In early 2021 the next phase will be to bring the justice involved women back to a facility in Norfolk County. We are currently renovating a center at our Dedham site to create more of a dormitory feel and less of a cold, jail-like atmosphere. With the approval of caseworkers and DCF, mothers and children can interact in a setting that is conducive to bonding. There will also be extensive programming offered, including job skills, education, and parenting skills classes.
Sheriff Jerry McDermott is also leading efforts to create diversion programs. These programs would assist women with underlying mental health and substance use disorder issues to be sent to a halfway house, so they do not have to go to jail.
Addressing Mental Health Challenges for our Youth
Since taking office, Sheriff McDermott has been proactive in addressing issues that can cause our young people to be justice involved. He formed the Sheriff’s Task Force on Juvenile Substance Abuse and Mental Health to address the needs of teenagers who are in danger of falling through society’s cracks. This multidisciplinary effort includes representatives from the Sheriff’s Office and School Committees, parents, physicians, School Resource Officers and mental health professionals.
Innovative Programs for The Opioid Epidemic
The opioid epidemic has impacted numerous families across Norfolk County as our sisters, brothers, sons and daughters face the challenge of substance use disorders. Under Sheriff McDermott’s leadership, the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office began a Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program in 2019. Those with an opioid substance use disorder are screened by medical professionals, given counseling, and are offered medication. The medication and counseling assist the patients on their road to recovery. The Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office also provides services to those that are released to ensure the can continue to access services.
Autism Awareness Seat Belt Covers
Sheriff Jerry began an innovative program in which Autism Awareness Seat Belt Covers are distributed to people who have a family member with Autism. These seat belt covers alert first responders and law enforcement professionals that a victim in a motor vehicle accident may not be able to communicate.
Over 800 of these covers have been distributed. This program is the first of its kind in the United States and other departments across the country have reached out the Norfolk County to earn more about this program.
Keeping Seniors Safe
Sheriff McDermott has been a partner to the 28 communities in Norfolk County. This year he has had 200 visits or Zoom calls to Councils on Aging and senior communities. Information on how not to be a victim of identity theft or financial scam is given at these sessions.
The Are You OK? (RUOK) program, which phones seniors who live by themselves daily as a wellness check, has made over 40,000 calls and has assisted with several medical emergencies.
Balancing the Budget during Uncertain Times
2020 has caused a wide variety of unforeseen challenges for all of us. One of these challenges is the financial strain that it has placed on our economy. During these difficult fiscal times, Sheriff McDermott demonstrated responsible management by making $4 million in reductions by eliminating and freezing positions, enacting furloughs for staff and deferring non-essential purchases. He balanced the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office budget for the first time in a decade.
The Norfolk Sheriff’s Office also realized $150K in savings by reducing spending on utilities through an environmentally efficient energy management program which includes the use of solar panels, energy efficient lighting and water conservation equipment.