Before he detailed plans to improve his agency, Peter J. Koutoujian was sworn into his first elected term as Middlesex County Sheriff on Wednesday, Feb. 13.
In front of a large audience of family, colleagues and friends, Koutoujian, a life-long Waltham resident and former state representative for Newton, took the oath of office during a 4 p.m. ceremony at the LaCava Center at Bentley University.
Koutoujian was elected to the post in November 2012 to fill the remaining four years of a six-year term. Gov. Deval Patrick appointed Koutoujian in late 2010 after former sheriff James DiPaola took his own life.
Koutoujian, in a 25-minute speech, said he plans to boost correction officer wellness and hire more academy-trained officers. He said he also wants to give more opportunities for officers to move up through the ranks.
Also, Koutoujian said he wants to improve and provide more programs to help prisoners transition back into civilian life.
“We need to give them the tools to leave us better than the shape they were [in] when they arrived,” Koutoujian said. “In the 21st century, we need to offer the types of programming to meet the needs of the workforce.”
Better inmate transition, Koutoujian said, would improve public safety and save taxpayer money.
Established in 1690, Koutoujian’s office oversees the Middlesex County House of Corrections in Billerica and Middlesex Jail in Cambridge. Koutoujian, however, said he plans to move the remaining prisoners out of the Cambridge facility and to the Billerica building. According to the Boston Globe, the Cambridge jail is overcrowded and in bad shape.
Koutoujian, an attorney by trade, was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives (10th Middlesex District) in 1996, according to his biography on the sheriff’s website. He previously served as a Middlesex County Assistant District Attorney.
“I love this job and I could not be more proud to stand with the men and women of the Middlesex sheriff’s office,” Koutoujian said.