Op Ed: A View from a Sheriff's Office Captain

by Christopher Eordekian

To give you a brief explanation of my background, I have been employed at the Barnstable County Sheriff's Office for two plus decades.  Working for the Sheriff’s Office has given me the ability to rise up through the ranks from a corrections officer to now a newly promoted Major (Assistant Deputy Superintendent).   I have been fortunate in my career to be surrounded by a hard working staff of officers, deputies, sergeants, lieutenants and captains who come to work every day focused and ready to do their jobs.  It’s a pleasure to supervise these professionals while maintaining a safe environment for both staff and inmates.  

My most recent assignment as a Captain and Day Shift Facility Shift Supervisor, the typical eight-hour assignment is mostly spent overseeing both staff and inmates.  That means all 12 Pods (where inmates are housed), Three Houses (which we call Zones), the outside grounds of the facility and 350 plus inmates at any one time – male as well as female, lock-ups, pre-trial as well as sentenced. 

Think of the Barnstable County Correctional Facility as a small town contained within four walls where you have to provide your population with a variety of services, such as food (breakfast, lunch and dinner), water, electricity, heat, medical care, mental health services, counseling, canteen food, laundry services, banking, rehabilitation, dental services, education, library, programs, mail services, maintenance, job training, transportation, housing, community services, electronic monitoring, work release and safety to all. 

The Barnstable County Correctional Facility is a twenty four hour machine that is open three hundred and sixty five days a year which can’t afford to stop or close. I can tell you firsthand that Sheriff Cummings insures that his staff are the best trained in the state and are equipped to do our job providing care, custody and control of our inmate population.    

Through the years my duties have been spent in jail operations as well as various other specialty assignments outside the facility assisting local law enforcement agencies.  If I had to explain what we do at the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office in a single word, I’d say we’re skilled “multi-taskers.”  Public Safety is our mission and it’s at the forefront of all BCSO operations.   Our Mission Statement reads:

To improve the quality of life on Cape Cod by:

  • Protecting the public from criminal offenders by operating a safe, secure, and rehabilitative correctional facility.
  • Assisting local agencies and promoting public safety through our associated specialized services.
  • Enforcing the Law of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Constitution of the United States of America.
  • We hold ourselves accountable to the public and the principles of Integrity, Professionalism, Compassion and Teamwork.

It’s been twenty-two plus years and my second facility since we moved jail operations to Bourne from Barnstable village.  Our men and women in uniform do a difficult job every day.  We are not like the deputies who patrol the highways and side streets of rural, Southern, and Western America.  In other words, we are not normally in the same places and doing the same things as police officers. Instead our role is to support local Law Enforcement agencies on Cape Cod who request assistance, here are some examples:

Being surrounded by water, our latest addition to the BCSO is a marine patrol vessel (S300), which serves as a force multiplier with the United States Coast Guard, the Department of Homeland Security, State and local Law Enforcement agencies and others whose vigilance on Cape waterways is absolutely critical in today’s age of terrorism.  S300 is assigned to a specialized team used for Hostage and Active Shooter response. This Team is assembled from the Upper Cape Cod Regional Special Response Team.  Officers selected were sent by the Sheriff to a demanding course at Charleston South Carolina at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

The Upper Cape Cod Regional Special Response Team is drawn from a core of Deputies who embrace this type of demanding assignment and are willing to invest the time and sweat it takes to “make this team.”  UCCR-SRT is made up of Falmouth Police Department Officers and Mashpee Police Department Officers.   Our Agencies have joined as one team to serve High Risk Warrants, respond to Active Shooter, Barricaded Suspects and Hostage takings. Team officers were deployed to Boston and Watertown and participated in the search for the marathon bomber.  More recently, our Upper Cape Cod Reginal SRT members responded to and successfully disarm a dangerously armored-up suspect who’d barricaded himself inside a Mashpee electronics store.

The Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office also has a highly trained Tactical Response Team or TRT. This Specialized team is comprised of Correctional Officers and Deputies.  Unlike the UCCR-SRT, this team’s focus is on the inside of the correctional facility.  TRT Officers are highly trained in riot control, cell extraction, large scale disturbances, area searches, high risk transports, use of chemical agents and less lethal munition.  To qualify for this specialized team, a physical fitness test is administered to all applicants.  Officer selected by the Sheriff to attend a rigorous academy before coming online. 

In the end, our many functions as facility operators and specialized units – have one thing in common, to serve and protect the citizens and visitors of Barnstable County. 

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