Peter Jones: The unique role of sheriff in Hampshire County

  • Top view of businessman working at his desk. Modern workplace with laptop, smartphone, diary and coffee cup. jacoblund

Published: 8/30/2022 2:27:51 PM
Modified: 8/30/2022 2:24:11 PM

Less than 50 years ago, John Boyle was the sheriff of Hampshire County. Sheriff Boyle lived at the Union Street jail in Northampton and ran the jail. His deputies served summonses to court and found people on the street to fill the jury pools.

The sheriff also performed ceremonial functions — bearing the mace at Smith College commencements and leading parades, dressed in his top hat, tailcoat, and gold waistcoat. He was the face of Hampshire County.

Since then, our county government was abolished and the state government assumed control over the courts and corrections. The sheriff became just another state employee, although an important one. Running the former county jail and house of correction, overseeing prisoner rehabilitation, serving legal process, executing evictions – these are all important jobs.

The sheriff is the only official elected by the citizens of Hampshire County, and only by the citizens of Hampshire County. It is more important than ever that the sheriff continue to represent Hampshire County at its public events.

As far as I know, none of the current candidates for sheriff has even mentioned this issue.

Peter Jones

Florence


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