Nick Cocchi is a lifelong resident of Ludlow. He is a graduate of Ludlow High School, and he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Government from Western New England University. Nick obtained a Master’s in Business Administration from Elms College, and in 2021, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Elms College for his humanitarian and philanthropic contributions to Western Massachusetts. In fall 2021, he began teaching a criminal justice leadership class at American International College in Springfield.
Nick is the recipient of several Sheriff’s Office awards including Employee of the Month, The Distinguished Service Award and the prestigious Dodson Award. He is married to his high school sweetheart Wendi and father to their three sons, Owen, Max and Sam.
Nick began his career as a seasonal, part-time correctional officer with the Hampden County Sheriff’s Office, working his way up the ladder to eventually be elected by the voters of Hampden County to serve as Sheriff.
Since taking office in 2017, Sheriff Cocchi has expanded the department’s level of community engagement, including tackling the opioid epidemic head-on. He started a medication-assisted treatment program to help people battling addiction, and he opened a substance use disorder treatment facility to help people involuntarily committed by the courts under the state’s Section 35 law.
He has uniformed deputy sheriffs patrolling Springfield’s Forest Park during warm weather and has uniformed staff at the Friends of the Homeless emergency shelter in the coldest months to allow for more people to be taken care of. He has taken the successful Truancy program the department runs in Springfield and replicated it in Chicopee, with the aim of increasing graduation rates there as well.
During the worst parts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sheriff Cocchi turned the department’s York Street Industries production capabilities toward creating life-saving personal protective equipment to protect health care professionals, frontline workers and correctional professionals and inmates across New England. He also leveraged the department to help Western Massachusetts obtain and then operate mass COVID testing and vaccination sites.
And with the onset of the pandemic, Sheriff Cocchi opened the First Responder Recovery Home as a place where frontline workers, ranging from law enforcement to retail staff, could safely recover from COVID-19 without endangering family members.
Behind the walls of the facilities he oversees, Sheriff Cocchi has pushed programing to reduce recidivism to the next level. Career training has expanded to include the high-paying forestry profession, as well as advanced manufacturing.
He started the Freedom Pups program to teach responsibility to inmates preparing to return to the community and, in turn, provide training for potentially problematic dogs to make them more adoptable. That program has taught countless inmates how to care for another creature and helped dozens of dogs find their forever homes.
And with an eye toward the future, Sheriff Cocchi is always looking at ways his team can help address unmet needs in the community and partner with the various groups that make the 23 cities and towns in Hampden County a great place to live, work and play.