Public Safety Secretary To Leave Post In Baker Administration

Secretary of Public Safety Dan Bennett will step down from his post in Gov. Charlie Baker's cabinet and will be replaced as secretary by Department of Correction Commissioner Thomas Turco, the administration confirmed Tuesday evening.

A former prosecutor in Worcester County, Bennett has served as the top public safety official in Baker's cabinet since the Republican governor took office in 2015. The administration did not say when Bennett's final day in the administration will be.

Public Safety Secretary Daniel Bennett, in a 2017 file photo (Sam Doran/SHNS)
Public Safety Secretary Daniel Bennett, in a 2017 file photo (Sam Doran/SHNS)

"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," Baker said in a statement. "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."

WCVB first reported Bennett's plans to leave the administration late Tuesday afternoon, and it was confirmed by the administration Thursday night in a press release announcing a "transition" at the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.

During the gubernatorial campaign, Baker's opponent, Democrat Jay Gonzalez, called on the governor to fire Bennett. Gonzalez said Baker had not done enough to address the ongoing overtime abuse scandal at the Massachusetts State Police, which falls under Bennett's jurisdiction.

"The buck stops with him as secretary of public safety, and he's responsible for making sure the State Police and every agency under his watch is serving the public, and he's fallen down on that job," Gonzalez said in September.

Turco started his career in 1988 as a probation officer in Florida. Over the course of his career, he has worked in multiple counties, including as chief probation officer of the Worcester Superior Court, overseeing operations for 12 years. In 2015, Baker made Turco undersecretary of criminal justice, a role in which he provided direction to the Department of Correction, Parole Board and the Sex Offender Registry Board and served as a liaison to the County Sheriffs.

He was appointed as commissioner of the Department of Correction in 2016. Carol Mici, currently assistant deputy commissioner of the Department of Correction, will serve as acting commissioner during the transition.


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