By Chris Maza
LONGMEADOW – Resident Hal Etkin recently announced his intentions to run for the position of Hampden County District Attorney.
“I am very happy to announce today that I am running for the important position of Hampden District Attorney. I am excited to bring my decades of law enforcement experience to this race and to the Office of the Hampden District Attorney,” he said. “Hampden County is facing many new challenges involving crime. Issues relating to the casino and the distribution of medical marijuana will place even more demands on law enforcement in our community.”
Etkin, 56, was an assistant district attorney in Hampden County from November 1984 to January 1991 and also served as director of the Western Massachusetts Police Academy from February 1993 to February 2002.
He holds a law degree from Western New England University School of Law, which he earned in 1984.
Etkin served in district court for three years until 1987 when he became the chief prosecutor of the Child Abuse Unit for which he received federal grant funding.
“My criminal experience prosecuting cases – especially at the trial level – is necessary to select, evaluate, and guide the prosecutors in the office,” he said.
Child Abuse Unit utilized what he called a “multi-disciplinary approach” that included physicians, psychologists, social workers, police, and prosecutors. The unit’s efforts earned Etkin a position as an advisor to the National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse in Washington, D.C.
In addition to prosecution as an assistant district attorney, Etkin took credit for creating a drug awareness program in schools called Project DA, which was eventually replaced with the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program, and for spearheading efforts to create video records for police traffic stops.
As director of the Western Massachusetts Police Academy, Etkin oversaw academic standards and instructor selection in addition to administrative duties such as budgeting, payroll and the management of a facility that housed the Massachusetts State Police crime lab and accident reconstruction team as well as the Hampden County gang unit.
Etkin stressed the need for a district attorney to be active within the community as well as in the courthouse. Etkin is the president-elect of the Springfield Boys and Girls Club and a board member for the Drama Studio in Springfield.
“The district attorney must work both inside and outside the courthouse to be effective. I am a strong believer in crime prevention. After all, fewer crimes mean fewer prosecutions,” he said.
Etkin has also taught at several local and regional colleges, including Bay Path College, Springfield Technical Community College, Anna Maria College, and Quincy College.
“An effective district attorney must be able to educate the public on the crime our area faces,” he said. “My teaching background enables me to effectively communicate this important information to the community.”
Etkin, who will run on the Democratic ticket, called himself the only person to announce their candidacy with a prosecutorial background.
“Unlike other candidates, my background as both a prosecutor and police academy director makes me uniquely qualified to coordinate the roles of the DA’s office and our local police departments,” he said.
He also pledged a short tenure at the position and that he would not seek re-election if he were proven to be ineffective.
“I will not serve more than two terms as District Attorney. If my office is unable to significantly reduce crime, I will be too embarrassed to run for a second term,” he said.
For more information, visit Etkin’s campaign website at www.etkinforda.com