By Associated Press - Sunday, January 1, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - Hampden County is getting its first new sheriff in more than four decades.

Nick Cocchi (COE’-chee) is scheduled to be inaugurated on Wednesday.

He takes over for Michael Ashe, who was first elected to the job of overseeing the county’s jails in 1974. The 77-year-old Ashe decided not to run for another six-year term.

During his tenure, Ashe earned national recognition for his innovative rehabilitation programs.

The transition to the 43-year-old Cocchi should be smooth. The new sheriff has worked for Ashe for 23 years. For the last six, he was deputy superintendent of the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, which oversees six correctional facilities. He earned Ashe’s endorsement.

Cocchi says while much will remain the same, he has his own management team in place and plans some policy changes.

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