Sheriff James M. Cummings

Elected as Barnstable County Sheriff and sworn into office in January 1999, Jim has a Bachelor's Degree in Law Enforcement from Northeastern University and a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice from Anna Maria College. Born in South Boston, he attended grammar school in Dorchester and high school in Weymouth. After an honorable discharge from the United States Navy, Jim made his home in Falmouth, where he and his wife Rose have raised four children.

Jim began his career in Law Enforcement in 1974, when he entered the State Police Academy in Framingham. After assignments as a uniformed trooper out of the Framingham Barracks and State Police Logan Airport, he was assigned to investigate organized crime in the Boston and South Shore areas. In 1977, he transferred to the Crime Prevention and Control Unit (CPAC), attached to the Office of Cape and Islands District Attorney Phillip A. Rollins.

During his many years at this assignment, Jim became a court-qualified expert in matters relating to Organized Crime/Gaming, Narcotics and Arson. He also coordinated and taught at the first homicide school ever offered at the Massachusetts State Police Academy. Jim retired as the Detective Lieutenant in charge of the State Police Detectives covering Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket Counties.

Sheriff Cummings oversees the multi-faceted Barnstable County Sheriff's Office (BCSO). That includes, among other duties, operating the Barnstable County Correctional Facility (BCCF), a Bureau of Criminal Investigations, a K9 unit, and an Emergency Communications (911 Dispatch) Center. The Sheriff has received and expended grant money for the detailed planning required to build a new dispatch center on the grounds of BCCF. This project, building a new dispatch center, comes after completion of what was job one for the Sheriff when he first assumed office: building the current Barnstable County Correctional Facility (BCCF) in Bourne. Priorities one and two were the safety and security of staff and a facility that offered programming that could reduce recidivism.

Since being sworn in to his first term of office on January 6, 1999, Sheriff Cummings has made many changes within the organization to enhance the professionalism of law enforcement staff. Every correctional officer employed by the Sheriff’s Office must meet strict hiring standards including a written examination, physical fitness test and oral review. Individuals found to meet these standards attend a specialized ten-week training academy that combines classroom lecture with physical fitness training. The first promotional examination process was also introduced for current employees to ensure law enforcement staff continue their careers with the same momentum of which they began.

Since BCCF’s 2004 opening, it has twice received National Accreditation from the American Correctional Association, receiving a 100% score on both occasions. The Correctional Facility has also been recognized as a rehabilitation facility. Sheriff Cummings implemented a Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Program (RSAT) for the inmates at the Barnstable County Correctional Facility and has received national recognition for its success in reducing recidivism. The RSAT Program is based on a modified therapeutic community composed of specially trained correctional officers, treatment counselors and inmates. This program has been designated by the Department of Justice as one of only six mentoring sites in the United States.

The program features a robust aftercare program, including a Community Reentry Council that meets to develop referrals and resources for each inmate six weeks before release. The program was also the first of its kind to provide injected naltrexone (Vivitrol) to inmates to facilitate drug free transition back to the community.

The recidivism rate for those who complete the RSAT program at BCCF is just 20% in comparison to the national average for recidivism of 62%. In addition, the White House National Drug Control Strategy recognized the Barnstable County Sheriff's Office in its 2014 report stating; "The Sheriff in Barnstable County Massachusetts with support from community health officials has started using Vivitrol -- a medication for the treatment of opioid use disorders to assist individuals in their return to their communities.

The medication is only one aspect of their treatment; it helps prevent relapse while the individual with the substance use disorder works to make lasting behavioral changes."

In addition to the programs for the inmates at the Correctional Facility, Sheriff Cummings strives to continue his many programs for the betterment of the Cape and Islands Community. The Sheriff’s Office runs a Youth Academy, a twelve-week program for Barnstable County Youth that involves the recommendations from teachers, police officers and parents to attend. The mission of the program is to empower individuals, families and communities to stop violence, substance abuse, delinquency, and crime, thereby preventing adult incarceration by meeting developmental needs positively through effective prevention/intervention services.

Sheriff Cummings' newest addition to his youth program offerings is Gang Resistance Education and Training, or GREAT for short. It was launched in March, 2011 in the Mashpee middle schools. Although gaining strong traction nationwide, this was its first introduction to the Cape. Judging by how well it has been received, that may change.

The Sheriff also runs a Community Service Program to provide free inmate labor and tent rentals in support of worthwhile municipal and non-profit organization projects. The Community Service Program provides an opportunity for carefully screened inmates to “give back” to the community. It also provides them with the chance to learn certain job skills and work skills such as basic carpentry, landscaping, painting, etc.

Finally, the Barnstable County Sheriff's Office organizes regional training opportunities, shares best practices, and provides technical assistance to program managers. These programs include the annual training of new Community Emergency Response Teams, volunteers who assist professional public responders in the immediate wake of widespread emergencies and natural disasters.

More recently, the Sheriff has been able to use a $446,000 federal grant to purchase and man a 31-foot patrol boat that will assist the Coast Guard and Homeland Security in maintaining vigilance on Cape waterways. The craft is equipped to detect chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear material being surreptitiously transported aboard potentially hostile boats.

Sheriff Cummings serves on the following Boards:

  • MA Sheriff's Association VP for Training and Leadership
  • Family Pantry Corporation Trustee
  • Police Activities League of Cape Cod
  • Member of the National Sheriffs' Association
  • Executive Member of the Regional Emergency Planning Committee
  • Cape Cod Law Enforcement Council
  • Governor's Appointee to the MMR Civilian Advisory Council to Environmental Management Commission
  • E911 Commission Member
  • Governor Baker's Transition Team
  • E911 Working Group Member for Regionalization
  • Cape and Island Emergency Medical Services Systems (CIEMSS)
  • Executive Committee for Regional Substance Abuse Council
  • Otis Civilian Advisory Council

Sheriff Cummings is a past member of the following Boards:

  • Community Action Council
  • Cape Cod & Islands Council, Boy Scouts of America
  • National Sheriffs' Association Committee for Crime Prevention
  • YMCA of Cape Cod
  • Cape Cod and Islands Youth Council Workforce Investment Executive Board
  • Advisory for Big Brothers and Big Sisters
  • Otis Civilian Advisory Council Board of Directors
  • Canal Region Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
  • Cape Cod & Islands Red Cross Board of Directors



Honors and Awards . . . (click here)

Sheriff congratulates Navy Chief Petty Officer Joe Gordon, back from Iraq in this picture and now redeployed to Afghanistan.  Also honored at this 2009 ceremony were other Sheriff’s Office employees who have served during Iraq and Afghanistan.  Two of them, Lt. Chip Lindberg and Deputy Scott Bishop have, like Gordon, done two tours.


Sheriff congratulates his 2008 Citizens Academy graduates.


Sheriff Cummings and Eastham Triad, one of a number of affiliated groups that utilize senior citizens to make their hometowns safer.