State House News Service

Patrick To Swear In Tompkins As Suffolk County Sheriff

BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick plans to appoint a new Suffolk County sheriff on Tuesday, turning to someone from within the department to replace Andrea Cabral, who the governor has tapped as his new public safety secretary.

Steven Tompkins, chief of the external affairs department with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office, will be sworn in by Patrick late Tuesday afternoon, taking on the role of acting sheriff until the next statewide election in 2014.

Tompkins has worked in the sheriff’s office since 2002 and worked recently as a senior political advisor to Elizabeth Warren’s successful campaign for U.S. Senate.

“As a dedicated public servant on the frontlines of crime prevention and reentry rehabilitation, Steven brings first-hand knowledge and passion to this critical position,” Patrick said in a statement. “I am confident in his ability to serve Suffolk County in this role and I look forward to working with him to strengthen our re-entry programs and reduce youth violence.”

The last time Patrick faced a sheriff vacancy, after the suicide of Middlesex County Sheriff James DiPaola, he named Peter Koutoujian, a state representative from Waltham, to fill the role. Koutoujian was elected sheriff for the first time this past November after serving in that capacity by appointment since January 2011.

This time, Patrick chose from within the sheriff’s department, selecting someone from Cabral’s nine-member executive team with experience running the day-to-day operations of the Suffolk County House of Correction, the Nashua Street Jail and the Civil Process Division. Tompkins will oversee a staff of more than 1,000.

Tomkins, in a statement, thanked the governor and said he accepted the position “enthusiastically.”

As chief of external affairs, Tompkins worked to create partnerships with municipal agencies, neighborhood organizations, civic associations, local businesses and crime watch groups to strengthen re-entry programs and try to deter youth crime.

He created the Common Ground Institute, a vocational training program to prepare inmates for post-release employment, and helped create the Choice Program and the Jail Brake programs, which respectively send officers in Boston middle schools to talk with children about making good life choices and target at-risk youth to help stay out of the criminal justice system.

Tompkins also serves as vice-chair of the Roxbury Community College Board of Trustees, and sits on the Foundation Board and Community Service Board of the Dimock Community Health Center in Roxbury.

Tomkins has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Boston College and master’s degree in public policy from the University of Massachusetts Boston. He lives in Hyde Park with his wife and two children.

“Steve brings an extraordinary level of relevant prior experience to this position. His job required him and his staff to work with every division within the Department. He knows what it took to get us where we are and he is very committed to building on that progress. Under his leadership, this Department’s best days are ahead of it,” Cabral said in a statement.

Patrick, who was in Washington, D.C., over the weekend attending the inaugural festivities of President Obama, plans to return to Massachusetts Tuesday afternoon. He attended the national prayer service at the National Cathedral in the morning.

He plans to swear in Tompkins as the new sheriff in a ceremony in his office, along with Cabral as his new public safety secretary and John Polanowicz as the new secretary of Health and Human Services, replacing Secretary JudyAnn Bigby.

Cabral was re-elected to a six-year term as Suffolk County sheriff in 2010, but is leaving her post to join the Patrick administration. Tomkins will hold the sheriff’s position until the next statewide election in November 2014 when candidates will be able to run to serve the remainder of Cabral term that expires in 2016.

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