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In political shift, Democrats Buckley and Galibois take oaths of office as sheriff, DA

Jennette Barnes
Barnstable County Sheriff Donna Buckley takes the oath of office Wednesday with husband Troy Clarkson by her side. Falmouth Town Clerk Michael Palmer administered the oath.

The new Cape and Islands district attorney and Barnstable County sheriff took their oaths of office Wednesday, marking a change of politics and perspective in regional law enforcement.

DA Robert Gailbois and Sheriff Donna Buckley, both Democrats, were elected in November to positions held by Republicans for decades.

In remarks during back-to-back swearing-in ceremonies at Cape Cod Community College, they touched on themes of compassionate justice.

Buckley, the first woman elected to the role, pledged to work with local nonprofits to connect inmates with mental health treatment and addiction treatment.

“Seated in the audience today are several family members of former inmates — inmates whose lives were lost to addiction and mental illness during and following their stay at the jail. … A sentence to our jail should not be a death sentence,” she said.

She said the sheriff’s office will do the best it can to prepare inmates to return home to their communities and not return to jail.

Jennette Barnes
Cape and Islands District Attorney Robert Galbois takes the oath of office Wednesday with his wife, Nikki Galibois, by his side. Superior Court Judge Mark Gildea administered the oath.

“We must work with our community stakeholders and our public safety and public health partners to find meaningful alternatives to the criminal justice system and jail for those struggling with addiction and mental illness,” she said.

And Buckley said that after the ceremony, she would sign a letter ending the Sheriff’s Department’s participation in the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement 287 (g) program.

The program — heavily criticized by immigration advocates — deputizes local law enforcement to perform certain immigration functions, including serving warrants and detaining people believed to be in the country illegally.

Galibois, the region’s chief prosecutor, said his role is to protect the innocent, hold perpetrators accountable, and consider the interests of victims and witnesses.

But he promised to work with “stakeholders in all of our communities — law enforcement and first responders, clergy, health care providers, educators, business owners, community advocates, veterans, and recovery professionals.”

Jennette Barnes
Assistant district attorneys with the Cape and Islands District Attorney's office were seated on stage and took the oath of office following the swearing-in of DA Robert Galibois.

“And a beautiful thing is all of those stakeholders I just mentioned are sitting in this auditorium right now, and I am most grateful for that,” he said.

During the campaign, Galibois said he intends to create a mental health session and veterans’ session in district court. Specialized sessions typically seek alternatives to incarceration if appropriate.

A reception for Buckley and Galibois in the lobby of the auditorium followed the ceremonies.

Buckley supporter Martin O’Donnell, a former correctional officer on Cape Cod, said he likes her emphasis on therapeutic intervention, but he believes she may have a difficult time gaining the support of correctional staff.

“I thought [former sheriff James Cummings] was a very decent guy,” he said. “But I think the mentality for a long time has been one, more, of incarceration, without real concentration on treatment.”

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.