LUDLOW, Mass. (WWLP) – Nicholas Cocchi has taken the oath of office, making him the new sheriff of Hampden County.
The Democrat is succeeding Michael Ashe, who served as Hampden County Sheriff for 42 years. Cocchi won a three-way Democratic primary in September, and then went on to defeat Republican John Comerford and Independent candidate James Gill in November’s general election.
“This will be the proudest day of my professional career,” Cocchi said in a release sent to 22News. “I understand the history of all those who have gone before me as Sheriff, for the 355 years that this role in public service has existed, and for the 148 years that the office has been known as that of the Sheriff of Hampden County.”
As sheriff, Cocchi is now in charge of overseeing several correctional facilities, including the men’s jail in Ludlow and the women’s jail in Chicopee. He will also oversee the addiction center that’s moving from Holyoke to Mill Street in Springfield.
The transition of power is expected to go smoothly; Cocchi has worked for Sheriff Ashe for the past 23 years. Ashe said he wants Cocchi to get off to a “running start,” and has helped his transition into office. Cocchi has been the deputy superintendent of the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department for the past six years, where he was in charge of overseeing six correctional centers.
Wednesday’s swearing-in ceremony was held at the Hampden County Correctional Facility in Ludlow. It was well-attended, but private, due to the nature of the venue.
Lt. Governor Karen Polito is scheduled to administer the oath of office, while Anthony Cignoli serves as master of ceremonies. Other guests include federal, state, and local officials.
As part of the ceremony, Sheriff Ashe signified the end of his era in office by ringing a bell seven times- six times for each of his terms as sheriff, and a seventh time to signify his “end of watch.”
Cocchi was sworn into office by taking the following oath:
“I, Nicholas Cocchi, do solemnly swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and support the Constitution thereof- so help me God.
I, Nicholas Cocchi, do solemnly swear and affirm that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent on me as Sheriff of Hampden County.
According to the best of my abilities and understanding, Agreeably to the rules and regulations of the Constitution and the Laws of this Commonwealth- so help me God.
I, Nicholas Cocchi, do solemnly swear that I will uphold the Constitution of the United States of America.”