Essex County Sheriff’s Department’s Ridley, STAR Programs Win Awards

Essex County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. James Ridley earned the 2023 Correctional Supervisor of the Year Award from the Massachusetts’ Sheriffs Association. Shown, from left, are association President, Sheriff Nick Cocchi of the Hampden County Sheriff’s Office; Sgt. James Ridley; and Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger. (Courtesy photograph.)

Essex County Sheriff’s Department’s Sgt. James Ridley and the Supporting Transitions And Re-entry Program—known as STAR—recently received top honors last week from the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association.

Ridley, a Lynn resident and 19-year veteran of the department, was named Correctional Supervisor of the Year for exhibiting outstanding leadership during critical situations, including performing CPR and directing life-saving efforts for an unresponsive individual, as well as administering Narcan to save another man’s life during a medical emergency.

“These are just a few examples of Sgt. Ridley jumping into action to prevent death and serious injury as he frequently does with his quick-thinking and excellent communication and de-escalation skills,” said Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger. “He is often a resource for correctional officers who have developed trust in him, not just because of his job performance during critical moments, but because of his commitment to integrity.”

The STAR Program with offices in both Lynn and Lawrence is a community-based program providing support, supervision and services to justice-involved individuals, The goal of the program is to keep people out of the justice system by using community partnerships and wrap-around services to provide clinical, educational, and vocational services to help individuals thrive in their communities. Opened in April 2022, the STAR program saw more than 400 referrals in its first year and assisted 135 participants.

“Nearly 80% of these STAR participants joined our program voluntarily, highlighting the dedicated and compassionate staff who go above and beyond to ensure clients have the tools and services they need to be successful,” Coppinger said. “Because of these dedicated individuals, the STAR Program is reducing recidivism while making our communities safer, while also providing a second chance to so many people in need.”

“So much of our work as corrections and law enforcement professionals happens away from the public and out of the spotlight. I’m happy that we’re taking a statewide look at these amazing individuals and their stories of bravery, as they save and change lives,” said Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi, president of the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association.

Gov. Maura Healey, guest speaker at the ceremony, said “The law enforcement and corrections professionals celebrated today go above and beyond each and every day to keep our communities safe and strong. It is a privilege to honor their courage and compassion, and on behalf of Massachusetts, we thank them for their dedicated service to our communities.”

The awards ceremony was Tuesday, Nov. 14, at the Massachusetts Statehouse and highlighted stories of heroism, dedication and innovation within the law enforcement and corrections communities.

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