Watertown Youths Learn What It’s Like to be a Firefighter

A cadet in the Middlesex Youth Public Safety Academy uses the fire hose as at Saltonstall Park. Holding tightly to a real fire hose, a young camper from the Middlesex Sheriff’s Youth Public Safety Academy shot a wide stream of water hundreds of feet across the field at Saltonstall Park on Wednesday morning. The Watertown Fire Department welcomed 31 youngsters from town to show them what it is like to be a firefighter. The campers are part of the week-long summer camp, and later in the day they stopped by the Watertown Police Station to learn about what police officers do. Watertown Fire Capt. Bob Power helps a camper use a fire hose.

Middlesex Sheriff Receives Money to Expand Youth Public Safety Academy

The following information was provided by the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office:

Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian today announced the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office (MSO) has been awarded nearly $3,700 from Attorney General Maura Healey’s Healthy Summer Youth Jobs Grant Program to help support the MSO’s 20th Annual Youth Public Safety Academy (YPSA). “We are grateful to Attorney General Healey for providing this funding which allows us to hire an additional counselor and expand the number of cadets we are able to accept into this year’s YPSA,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “Not only does this grant provide an opportunity for more cadets to participate in this program, but also for a young adult to work in an environment where they can mentor younger neighbors.”

YPSA is a series of six, one-week long camps designed for children ages 8-12 who live in Middlesex County. Cadets spend the week with MSO staff as well as police officers and firefighters from their hometown, forming important bonds with their local law enforcement officials. Cadets also participate in classroom and practical activities designed to teach them important public safety skills including a simulated fire safety trailer offered by the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services, a challenge course held at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Billerica, and demonstrations offered by the MSO and partner agencies. “Our summer jobs program provides young people across the state with an opportunity to challenge themselves and make a difference in their own community,” AG Healey said.

Watertown Helps Collect More than 100 Guns in Sheriff’s Buyback Program

Some of the weapons collected in Watertown and Belmont in the MIddlesex Sheriff’s gun buyback in June. The following information was provided by the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office:

One hundred twenty unwanted guns and ammunition were exchanged for gift cards to local stores and restaurants over four Saturdays of the “Safer Homes, Safer Communities” Eastern Middlesex County Regional Gun Buyback initiative, officials announced. The initiative – held June 8-29 – was a collaborative effort of the Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge, Newton and Watertown police departments, in conjunction with the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office as well as faith- and community-based partners. This was the second regional buyback held in Middlesex County since 2016, with a total of 270 weapons exchanged for gift cards during the two regional initiatives. “I want to thank all our partners for their leadership in this area, and allowing us to continue to support these important community-based efforts,” said Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian. “Offering residents these opportunities to safely remove unwanted and unsecured guns reduces the chances of theft or accidental discharge, making our homes and our communities safer.”

Included among the 120 guns accepted on the days of the events was a loaded .22-caliber pistol in Newton. The individual disposing of the gun was unaware that it was loaded.

Middlesex Sheriff’s Office Gets Grant to Expand Youth Program

A Youth Public Safety Academy cadet salutes a sheriff’s deputy and Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, right. The following information was provided by the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office:

The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office Youth Public Safety Academy (YPSA) will be able to expand its capacity by as many as 100 cadets this summer thanks to a $23,000 grant from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS), Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian announced. “Nearly 1,200 youngsters have applied to YPSA this year, and the continuing success of the camp comes from our terrific partnerships with our fellow law enforcement and government agencies,” said Sheriff Koutoujian.  “Thanks to the Baker Administration and EOPSS, we will be able to hire two extra counselors and purchase the additional equipment necessary to accept 100 more cadets over the course of the summer.  This grant will make a real difference in the lives of these youngsters who may not otherwise be able to attend YPSA.”

This marks the second consecutive year the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office (MSO) has been awarded the grant through the Commonwealth’s Law Enforcement and Youth Partnerships Summer Day Program.  The initiative, administered by EOPSS, is designed to support summer recreational and educational learning opportunities with local law enforcement. “We are honored to partner with the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office to allow more young people to take part in this valuable program,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Security Thomas Turco. “Creating strong, positive relationships between law enforcement and the community is a priority for us and one that is clearly shared by Sheriff Koutoujian and his team.”

YPSA is a week-long camp designed for children ages 8-12 who live in Middlesex County.

Watertown Hosting Gun Buyback Event on June 22

An AR-15 assault rifle, in front, was among the weapons brought to Watertown gun buyback on Saturday. The Watertown Police provided the following information:

The Eastern Middlesex County Gun Buy-Back will be held in Watertown on Saturday, June 22 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. The event will be at First Parish Church (35 Church St.)

Make our communities even safer by disposing of any unwanted guns! No ID’s will be requested, no questions asked. You’ll receive a gift card for each firearm you turn in and help reduce the risk of suicide, accidental discharge, and domestic violence.

Middlesex Sheriff Warns Residents Should Beware of Jury Duty Scam

The following information was provided by the Middlesex Sheriff’s office:

The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office (MSO) is warning residents to be alert for a new round of jury duty scam calls. As part of the scam, callers are posing as members of the MSO and are telling residents they need to resolve matters related to missed court matters and jury duty.  In multiple instances this month – including two this past weekend – scammers identified themselves as a Sgt. Cooper and provided 781-819-5610 as a call back number. On Friday, a local resident was allegedly told he needed to pay $900 or would be arrested, while on Saturday, a woman was told she needed to respond to a specific location to clear up three warrants.  The location to which the woman was told to respond housed actual MSO offices but was closed at the time. 

In all three cases, those who were contacted called the MSO before paying any money or traveling to a location. “Nationwide, these scammers are attempting to use the criminal justice system and the threat of arrest as a tool to frighten people into paying large sums of money,” said Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian.  “We want residents to be aware of these scams and these tactics in order to better protect themselves.”

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a jury duty scam you are encouraged to immediately notify your local police department.  If the scammer claims to be a member of the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office we also ask you to contact our office at 978-667-1711.

Sheriff Peter Koutoujian Named to Advisory Board of National Justice Center

Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian

The following information was provided by the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office:

The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, a national nonprofit organization that develops research-driven strategies to increase public safety and strengthen communities, announced today that Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian has joined its Advisory Board. State officials across the U.S. — including here in Massachusetts — have used the findings and technical assistance provided by the CSG Justice Center to develop legislative efforts. In late 2015, Massachusetts leaders asked the CSG Justice Center to help conduct a review of the Commonwealth’s criminal justice system. As part of that review, the Massachusetts Justice Reinvestment Working Group, which Sheriff Koutoujian served on, was formed and produced the policy framework for the state’s criminal justice reform law in 2017. 

“The CSG Justice Center has been at the forefront of historic criminal justice reform across the country, bringing its expertise and experience to countless jurisdictions,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “I look forward to working side-by-side with my fellow board members to ensure this critical work of increasing public safety and strengthening communities continues.”

The CSG Justice Center Advisory Board is composed of a bipartisan group of legislators, court officials, law enforcement executives and state executive branch officials, all of whom have significant expertise related to public safety and health.

Middlesex Sheriff Named Vice President of National Sheriff’s Group

Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian (left) was sworn in as vice president of the Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA) by President Grady Judd on Thursday, February 14, 2019 during the MCSA winter conference meeting in Washington, D.C.

The following information was provided by the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office:

Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian has been selected by his colleagues from across the country to serve as vice president of the Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA). 

A professional law enforcement association comprised of sheriffs of the nation’s most populous counties and parishes, MCSA members represent over 100 million people across more than 30 states. “I am honored to be selected for this leadership position to help showcase the innovative work being done by sheriffs from across the country,” said Sheriff Koutoujian.  “I look forward to working with President Grady Judd, the executive board and membership to promote the incredible work our colleagues do on a daily basis to increase safety in our communities.”

Sheriff Koutoujian, who had been tapped to serve in an acting capacity in mid-December by President Judd, was formally voted to the post on a permanent basis by his colleagues at the MCSA’s annual winter conference on Thursday, Feb. 14. “I am honored and excited to work shoulder to shoulder with Sheriff Koutoujian in the coming year,” said President Judd.  “I believe Peter is a visionary with the strong leadership and fresh perspective that will propel the MCSA to next level.”

A longtime state legislator and former prosecutor with the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, Koutoujian has led the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office since 2011.  During his tenure as sheriff, he has overseen the implementation of several statewide and nationally recognized initiatives including a specialized treatment unit for incarcerated military veterans, a medication assisted treatment program and the launch of a groundbreaking new housing unit for incarcerated young adults (ages 18-24).