The following is a press release issued by the Governor’s office
“Since day one, our administration has been deeply committed to keeping every Massachusetts community as safe and secure as possible,” said Governor Baker. “Dan has shown steadfast leadership working across state and local government on critical issues like fighting the opioid epidemic, radically transforming Bridgewater State Hospital and working with the State Police to implement several important reforms. We thank him for his public service, wish him well in the future and look forward to welcoming Commissioner Turco and his thirty years of experience to the cabinet.” BOSTON – Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito announced the departure of Executive Office of Public Safety and Security Secretary Daniel Bennett om Tuesday, and introduced Thomas Turco, current Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Correction, as incoming Secretary.
“Massachusetts cities and towns have had a tremendous partner and advocate in Secretary Bennett throughout our administration’s first term,” said Lieutenant Governor Polito. “Whether it was through the Shannon Grant program, public safety staffing grants or an innovative buyer diversion treatment program, Secretary Bennett has worked tirelessly to make Massachusetts a safer place for everyone. I join Governor Baker in wishing Dan all the best and look forward to working alongside Commissioner Turco.”
“I am very proud of what we have accomplished over the past nearly four years working closely together with a wide range of partners to advance the mission of public safety in Massachusetts,” said Secretary Bennett. “Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito set the tone for these partnerships and I would like to thank them for allowing me to serve in this capacity. Finally, I would like to thank the many talented and hardworking people I have had the privilege of serving alongside within the agencies under the state public safety umbrella. Without them, the job of keeping the people of the Commonwealth safe would not be possible.”
“After working with the Baker-Polito Administration as the DOC Commissioner, I am honored to be appointed as Secretary of Public Safety and Security to contribute to the ongoing mission of keeping our communities and residents safe,” said Commissioner Turco. “I look forward to working with the Administration, Legislature and public safety officials across the state to make meaningful progress and improve public safety from the Berkshires to Cape Cod, ranging from fighting the opioid epidemic to continuing reform at the State Police.”
Carol A. Mici, currently Assistant Deputy Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Correction, will serve as Acting Commissioner at the Department of Correction.
Under Secretary Bennett’s leadership, the Baker-Polito Administration has made a number of advancements on key public safety and security issues for people and communities across Massachusetts. Those accomplishments include:
- Successfully partnering with Correct Care Solutions in 2017 in an effort to dramatically improve the quality of care for persons with serious mental illness at Bridgewater State Hospital. Completed in close coordination with the Executive Office for Health and Human Services, the Administration closed the Intensive Treatment Unit (ITU) on the first day of the transition and in the first year, Bridgewater saw a dramatic reduction in the number of hours of patient seclusion (91%) and mechanical restraint (99%).
- Staunch advocacy for combatting a relentless opioid epidemic across Massachusetts. Secretary Bennett was instrumental in passing reforms to empower police officers to crack down on fentanyl and carfentanil traffickers and also deployed an innovative buyer diversion treatment program to divert lower level offenders arrested for purchasing narcotics away from the criminal justice system and into treatment and recovery options.
- Achieving full NAME accreditation for the first time in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner’s (OCME) history. In the face of rising caseloads, high staff attrition rates and a national shortage of qualified forensic pathologists, Secretary Bennett successfully installed a new Chief Medical Examiner and leadership team at the agency. The office now closes approximately 90% of its cases in 90 days, a transformative increase from Fiscal Year 2015 when only 45% of cases were closed in 90 days.
- Working with Massachusetts State Police to implement a number of comprehensive reforms to the department, including the elimination of Troop E, the activation of GPS technology in state police cruisers and the development of a body camera program.
- Improving the Commonwealth’s enhanced 911 and emergency communication system by investing in critical life-saving technology, focusing on reduced response times and deploying a Next Gen 911 system statewide. Secretary Bennett worked with the State 911 Department and local officials to bring technology for receiving wireless direct emergency calls to 297 new communities and the Commonwealth is one of the first states in the country to deploy a Next Gen 911 system statewide.
- More than $26 million worth of Shannon Grants administered to groups in towns across the state to bolster their efforts against gang violence. Secretary Bennett worked closely with local leaders to deploy a set of strategies, from education to diversion and suppression, in an effort to keep young people away from gangs.
Turco, III began his career as a probation officer at the Florida Department of Correction in 1988. Over the course of his career he served in multiple counties and was promoted in 2003 to Chief Probation Officer of Worcester Superior Court, where he supervised the operations of the probation department for Worcester County. In this role, he developed and implemented policies, procedures and rules established by the Commissioner of Probation and the Trial Court. He also collaborated with community organizations and agencies to promote crime prevention and remediation.
In 2015, he was appointed by Governor Charlie Baker to be Undersecretary of Criminal Justice in the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. In this leadership position, he provided direction to the Department of Correction, Parole Board and the Sex Offender Registry Board while serving as a liaison to the County Sheriffs.
On April 8, 2016 Governor Baker appointed Turco Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Correction, an agency that operates sixteen (16) correctional facilities, employs over 4,500 staff, and has an annual budget of $626 million and an inmate census of over 8,500 inmates.
Commissioner Turco holds a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Western New England College. He is a graduate of the Florida Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Training Academy. He is also an active member of the American Correctional Association (ACA) and the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA).