Race for county sheriff grows with former Somerset Chief

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George McNeil, whose 37-year law enforcement career includes seven as the Somerset Police Chief, has announced his candidacy for Bristol County Sheriff's Office. Courtesy photo

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

The former chief of the Somerset Police Department has thrown his hat in the ring to become the new Bristol County Sheriff.

George McNeil, a 37-year law enforcement professional who spent the last seven years as chief of the Somerset Police Department, has joined three other candidates—Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux, and Fall River Attorney Nick Bernier.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, McNeil said he can bring modern change and progress to the sheriff’s office, which has been lacking in recent years under Hodgson.

“Detainees are leaving facilities without proper addiction and mental health counseling,” said McNeil in a statement. “They are also leaving with little to no vocational training. I want to make sure that the people detained at the facilities have a chance at bettering themselves. This approach will make the county a safer place and will help to reduce recidivism rates, which have run rampant in recent years.”

McNeil’s career in law enforcement includes serving as the president of the Bristol County Chiefs of Police Association for over thee years. As chief of the Somerset Police Department, he oversaw the department’s re-accreditation twice. He also spearheaded many programs during his tenure, including the creation of a Problem Oriented Policing (POP) unit to address areas of the community with repeat calls for service.

Hodgson was appointed Sheriff of Bristol County in 1997 by then-Gov. William F. Weld. Sheriffs serve six-year terms and he ran unopposed in 2016. He also served five years as a Councilor-at-Large on the New Bedford City Council.

Heroux has worked in the Philadelphia county jail system, and the Massachusetts state prison system. He served as a state representative and has a master’s in Criminology.

Bernier is a practicing attorney and law partner at a regional law firm headquartered in Fall River directly across from the Fall River Justice Center. Prior to this, he was an assistant district attorney at the Bristol County District Attorney’s office. Between 2010 and 2014, he also served as a campaign manager for two political campaigns—Michael Rodrigues’ bid for Massachusetts Senator and Joseph Ferreira’s campaign for Massachusetts Governor’s Councilor.

fundraiser for the WWII Pool and Lenore's  Pantry