New comfort dog will be used to reduce stress, promote wellness and healing in Hingham

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By Frank O’Laughlin

March 11, 2022

 

HINGHAM, MASS. (WHDH) - Law enforcement officials on Friday introduced a new comfort dog who will be tasked with reducing stress, promoting wellness, and helping community members heal.

Opry, a mixed-breed rescue pup hailing from Texas, is gentle and docile, according to Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz and Hingham Police Chief David P. Jones.

In addition to her presence in Hingham, Opry will also make appearances at the nationally accredited Plymouth County Children’s Advocacy Center, where she will be made available to comfort child victims of abuse.

“We know all too well the traumatic effect that stress can have on young people,” Cruz said in a news release. “Opry has developed a comforting presence and commands smiles wherever she goes.”

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Plymouth County DA gets $1 million grant to help kids affected by opioid epidemic

Joe Difazio
The Patriot Ledger
January 25, 2022

BROCKTON – The U.S. Department of Justice awarded a $1.18 million grant to the Plymouth County district attorney's office to help children affected by drug use in their families and community. 

The grant will allow the office to hire a project coordinator for the effort and partner with organizations that help kids impacted by substance use disorders. 

“Identifying and offering support to children living in homes with addiction is an important step in disrupting the cycles of trauma and helping children and families build resilience," Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz said in a statement. "Securing this grant money will help assist us in enhancing Plymouth County’s response to the trauma that these children are witnessing."

The South Shore has been hard hit by the opioid crisis – law enforcement, elected officials and community leaders have been grappling with opioids for more than a decade. 

Plymouth County in particular has seen high death rates. According to state data, the county saw more than 270 overdose deaths per 100,000 people between 2010 and 2020, second only to Bristol County for highest death rate. Brockton, Rockland and Carver had some of the highest death rates for municipalities across the state in that decade. 

Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz.

Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz   Joe Difazio/Patriot Ledger

The grant, which comes from a Justice Department program aimed at curbing the effects of drug use, will be distributed over three years.

Plymouth County's Drug Endangered Children Initiative, born out of the county's drug abuse task force created by Cruz and Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph McDonald, has been recognized by the state for its effort in helping kids with trauma caused by drug use in their families. 

To the Moon and Back, a nonprofit that helps kids born with exposure to or dependence on opioids, will be one of the district attorney's partners. 

"This year we are conducting a research study on the long-term impacts of in-utero opiate exposure. This grant will allow us to educate families and providers on our findings to help develop lacking best practices in the educational, medical, and social emotional care of these children," Theresa Harmon, the group’s executive director and founder, said in a statement. 

The district attorney's office will also partner with Community Connections of Brockton and The Family Center, Balance4Kids and Calmer Choice.


Here's why fatal overdoses in Plymouth County were down in 2021 after a brutal 2020

Susannah Sudborough
The Enterprise
January 20, 2022

BROCKTON – In a surprising but hopeful finding, Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz has announced that fatal overdoses in the county were down significantly in 2021 compared to 2020 and 2019. 

In 2021, there were 132 suspected fatal overdoses in the county, compared to 165 in 2020 and 143 in 2019. These numbers were compiled from suspected fatal overdoses that Massachusetts State Police troopers responded to, the DA's Office said. 

“We are pleased that the number of suspected fatal overdoses was down in 2021, but one overdose is still one too many,” Cruz said. “This coming year, we will continue our work with the Plymouth County Drug Abuse Task Force to get help and resources to those addicted and their families.”

The downturn is somewhat counterintuitive given that many professionals who work with people dealing with substance use disorder attributed the increase in overdose deaths in 2020 to the pandemic, which we are still dealing with. 

Countering the COVID effect

Victoria Butler, program director of Plymouth County Outreach, a collaboration between all the police departments in Plymouth County that tries to increase access to substance use disorder resources, said COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns led to a sharp increase in relapses and fatal overdoses in 2020. 

"When you take away resources and access to care, especially for individuals who might not have access to the internet, to virtual resources, it's going to have a catastrophic impact," she said.

But given those difficulties last year, Butler said, many organizations working on this issue learned a lot from 2020, and found ways to adapt to the pandemic and make resources more accessible. 

"Going into 2021, the world was able to open back up a bit. And not only that, but we were able to get creative with the resources we offered," she said. "So, having more virtual options available, or getting creative with how we can offer the same services."

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Drug Forfeiture Money Distributed to Non-Profit Community Groups

WATD 95.9
October 15, 2021

 

Every year a portion of the money that’s taken through drug forfeiture in Plymouth County goes back into non-profit community groups.

Plymouth County D.A. Tim Cruz spoke with Christine James about how it works. 

Click the link below to listen to the interview:


D.A. Tim Cruz Discusses Numerous Programs Office Sponsors

WATD 95.9
August 13, 2021

Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz’s office sponsors numerous programs to help the public with everything from internet safety for kids, to keep seniors from getting scammed. Cruz told Christine James it’s all about keeping the community safe and informed. 

to hear the interview, click on the link below:

D.A. Tim Cruz Discusses Numerous Programs Office Sponsors | WATD 95.9 FM (959watd.com)


Plymouth County DA's office sends $32,000 seized in drug crimes to community organizations

The Patriot Ledger
Patriot Ledger Staff
July 1, 2021

BROCKTON – Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz's office is sending $32,000 to eight community groups as part of a program that reinvests money seized from drug crimes. 

Cruz's office annually gives some of the cash seized in drug raids and similar operations to groups typically focused on fighting drug abuse. 

“Each year, our office awards numerous Community Reinvestment Program funds to youth organizations, school districts, neighborhood associations and (senior assistance) programs throughout Plymouth County, at no cost to taxpayers,” Cruz said in a statement.

“Fast forward to 2020 and COVID-19: Many of these groups and organizations struggled. They do such great work and people in the community rely on their help. I am proud that we can steer these funds to good use."

Marshfield FACTS says it will use its $4,000 to compile and distribute reading materials to help teach young children about a loved one's substance use disorder. 

Rockland-based 24Hr. Power got $3,500 for beautification of Tukis Park in Brockton and other projects. The group helps recovering substance abusers. 

"They have helped us out a lot," Susie Lordi, founder of 24Hr. Power, said of the grants. "It's a really cool program. It effects positive change in the community. ... They don't just give you the money, they participate however they can."

Lordi said her small organization doesn't have a professional grant writer or a full-time staff, so the money makes a big difference. 

South Shore Peer Recovery in Scituate says it will use its $4,000 to fund its sober softball league.

Anchor of Hull will get $4,000 for a meditative arts group and emergency crisis diversion for those suffering from substance use disorder.

Other groups that got money from the program are Hingham CARES, Choices4Teens, the Homeless Improvement Project and Pembroke Titans. 


Plymouth County Triad keeps seniors safe and secure

The Old Colony Memorial
Dave Kindy, Wicked Local
June 28, 2021

A large group of senior citizens is gathered under a tent at the Plymouth County Farm on Obery Street. At first glance, it seems like nothing more than a social gathering, especially since coffee and conversation are flowing freely.

However, something more important is in play here. Walking through the crowd are Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz and Plymouth County Sheriff Joe McDonald. They stop and chat amiably with the older adults, asking how they are doing and joking about finally not having to wear masks now that the COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed.

DA Tim Cruz and Sheriff Joe McDonald talk with people at the Plymouth County Triad annual luncheon.

While the banter is lighthearted, this event has a more serious purpose. The annual luncheon of Plymouth County Triad is another step in keeping older adults safe and secure in their own communities.

Part of a national effort, the public safety program works to ensure that the needs of seniors are adequately addressed in the community. Law enforcement, councils on aging and older adults meet regularly across the county to discuss issues and find ways of assisting an older generation.

Stephanie Williams, shown here with her husband Henry, serves seniors as a member of the East Bridgewater Council of Aging.

“Socializing is a big part of this,” Cruz said. “We meet all around the county to talk with seniors and keep them informed about scams and the crime du jour. We want them to know that we are here for them.”

Started by the National Sheriffs’ Association, Triad focuses on preventing older adult abuse by reviewing plans for an aging population and developing reliable support networks for assistance. Law enforcement works with the Center for Active Living and other councils on aging across the county to ensure older adults are not being harmed financially, physically or psychologically, or through caregiver and self neglect.

Deputy Sheriff Caitlyn Horton and Andy at the Plymouth County Triad annual luncheon.

Plymouth County Triad consists of the district attorney, sheriff, local police and fire chiefs, council on aging directors, SALT (Seniors and Law Enforcement Together) members, senior citizens and representatives of community groups that assist older adults.

“We work with Triad to develop programming that educates seniors primarily on safety,” said Plymouth’s Director of Elder Affairs Michelle Bratti, who is also the Center for Active Living director. “These include financial, scam and fraud, virtual, health and ways to reduce crime in general. We host and coordinate them for our senior community, either through Zoom, PACTV and in-person events.”

Plymouth County Sheriff Joe McDonald and DA Tim Cruz talk to seniors about staying safe at the Plymouth County Triad annual luncheon.

Plymouth Country Triad programs programs are wide and varied. They include:

Safety Assurance – A well-being call to support independent living

Code Red – Public safety alerts for older adults

SafetyNet – A caregivers tool to keep those at risk of wandering safer

File for Life – Medical history kit kept for easy referral

Unused or Expired Medicine Disposal Program – Local boxes for safe disposal


'A beautiful product': Bench outside Brockton City Hall dedicated to area homicide victims

The Enterprise
Cody Shepard
June 25, 2021

BROCKTON — A black bench with red trim now sits in the plaza outside Brockton City Hall.

The Survivors' Bench carries a plaque "in memory of loves ones, victims of homicide whose lives we honor here."

"They are forever dear to us," the commemorative plaque concludes.

The bench is the work of the South Shore Resource and Advocacy Center's S.H.A.R.E.S program — Surviving Homicide's Aftermath — Resources, Education and Support.

The group approached late Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter a few years ago about dedicating a bench outside City Hall to Brockton-area homicide victims. Carpenter gave his support and Brockton's Superintendent of Parks Timothy Carpenter provided the group with a bench that could be refurbished.

Members of the S.H.A.R.E.S program painted the bench during a group paint night prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but plans to unveil it outside City Hall were put on hold when the pandemic emerged.

With COVID-19 restrictions lifted and Massachusetts reopening, the ceremony was finally held Wednesday afternoon outside City Hall.

"We have a beautiful product here today," said Karen Fabrizio, program coordinator for S.H.A.R.E.S. "It's for people to come here collaboratively, for vigils, for just some peace for yourself and a place where victims of homicide and survivors can come and just have a little place of their own with a little integrity, a little silence and a little peace."

The program's Rev. Bill McCoy said S.H.A.R.E.S provides resources to family and friends of homicide victims in Bristol and Plymouth counties.

One local resident who has received support from the program is Shannon Tangherlini, whose son, Matthew Tangherlini, was fatally shot in the city on Oct. 5, 2015, at the age of 27.

Tangherlini applied for and received a grant from the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute to make the bench possible.

"As survivors, we wanted to provide a memorial site to honor our loved ones," Tangherlini said. "The bench here, I'm hoping, will provide a special meeting place for families and others who have experienced similar types of trauma. I think it's important to have our loved one's lives recognized."

Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan also gave his blessing for the bench outside City Hall and credited the members of S.H.A.R.E.S for not letting the project fall to the wayside, but remaining dedicated to it even after Carpenter's death.

"I, as mayor, and as a dad of three kids, I've never felt the pain that some of you have felt. But I recognize and get prayers every single day from Sharon Baker," said Sullivan, referring to a Brockton woman who started a support group for those who have lost loved ones after her son, Tyrelle Baker, was fatally shot in 2012. "She sends me a text every morning with a prayer. And I just want to say that we must always remember what happened and always reflect on how we need to make change here in the City of Champions and in the commonwealth and in the nation. We need to cut down on homicides. We just need to do that. We need to be able to embrace and love."

Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz called the bench a worthwhile memorial for people whose lives were taken.

"I'm glad that when I go around on my walks now, I'll be able to see the bench and it will remind me just a little bit about the cases that we have, the people that we deal with, the challenges that we face and the work that we have to do to bring peace to everybody," Cruz said. "Peace is attainable. It's attainable by groups like this that are working hard together."

Brockton Police Chief Emanuel Gomes said he's witnessed many "terrible tragedies," referring to murders, during his 35-year career.

"Every one of these incidents has touched me and they've changed me," he said.

Enterprise senior reporter Cody Shepard can be reached by email.


Brockton residents march in Father's Day Peace Walk against violence

Alisha Saint-Ciel

The Enterprise
June 21, 2021

BROCKTON — More than a hundred Brockton residents took to the streets to walk in peace against gun violence for the third annual Father's Day Peace Walk on Sunday morning.

In a City Hall office in 2019, where walk organizer Sharon Baker worked, she spoke to one of her colleagues about what she could do about the anger and hurt growing inside.

Jamal Gooding, operations manager at a Brockton group called P.A.C.C., left, which stands for People Affecting Community Change, with organizer Sharon Baker during the third annual Father's Day Peace Walk in Brockton on Sunday, June 20, 2021.

"I started the walk because I was angry, and there was a lot of anger building up inside of me towards my son being murdered," said Baker, whose son, Tyrelle Baker, was fatally shot in Brockton in 2012.

"I told my coworker I have to do something. I have to get rid of this anger," Baker said. "Grief comes in many stages, some people say it's five, some say it's 12, but there's no number on it. Some days I'm OK, and other days I'm crying because I miss my boy."

Baker said she didn't want to live her life filled with angst. She needed a plan. Baker prayed about it and she said God gave her an idea — a peaceful walk.

 

DA Cruz Father's Day Peace Walk 2021

Baker has dedicated over six years of her life to educating the community about gun violence prevention and healing since the murder of her 23-year-old son.

In 2015, Baker founded Life After Death, a Brockton support group for people who has lost a loved one, but is open to anyone.

Several community leaders, gun violence survivors and victims attended Sunday's walk to show their support, stand in solidarity against gun violence and speak words of encouragement. 

Organizer Sharon Baker, center, leads the way during the third annual Father's Day Peace Walk in Brockton on Sunday, June 20, 2021.

LaDawn Baker, the founder of A Call to Survivors Inc., a nonprofit for victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, attended the walk to support her cousin Baker.

"I am a survivor," LaDawn said. "I speak and share my story and I encourage others to speak up even if they've never experienced domestic violence or sexual assault directly but to speak up and advocate for others."

LaDawn has lost two family members to gun violence and said she appreciates events like the Father's Day Peace Walk because it gives her hope for a brighter future.

"Events like these are always helpful. They're needed. It's a necessity and we hope each year more and more people participate," she said. "The more the community sees residents, friends, neighbors, elected officials, business owners that are out here involved, it makes an impact."

Organizer Sharon Baker, center, is surrounded by her grandchildren, from right, Siyhann Sharp, 13, Aniylah Smith, 12, and Marvin Baker, 9, during the third annual Father's Day Peace Walk in Brockton on Sunday, June 20, 2021.

"It sends a message to people out here committing these crimes that we don't want it anymore," LaDawn said. "Enough is enough. Being able to show solidarity and helping family members living in hell for the rest of their lives because they lost their loved ones to gun violence."

The walk started from Vicente's Supermarket and ended at City Hall. Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz and other elected city officials blended in the crowd sporting their white Father's Day Peace Walk T-shirts.

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Brockton man convicted of federal gun, drug crimes

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Click on the logo to view the article.

December 3, 2018

Douglas Norris, 39, was arrested during a major police raid in June 2017.

 

BOSTON – A Brockton man will serve time in federal prison for illegally possessing weapons and drugs after he was arrested last June during a major police sting in the city.

Douglas Norris, 39, was convicted in federal court in Boston Monday, the U.S. District Attorney’s office said in a press release, and will be sentenced in March 2019,

Norris was one of 27 city residents arrested during a large-scale police raid in June 2017 that sought wanted felons and repeat offenders of drug and violent crimes.

Police executed a search warrant at Norris’ home on North Warren Avenue, where they discovered a loaded Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol, 21 additional rounds of ammunition, plastic baggies containing 32 grams of cocaine and 46 grams of crack cocaine and various drug paraphernalia.

Norris was prohibited from possessing a firearm based on a prior 2005 conviction.

In federal court Monday, a jury found Norris guilty of one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, one count of possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of crack cocaine, one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Patti B. Saris will sentence Norris on March 28, 2019.

Norris’ conviction was announced by U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and various federal, state and local officials, including Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz and Brockton Police Chief John Crowley.


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