SPECIAL TO THE LEDGER
SPRINGFIELD – Hal Etkin is running for District Attorney in Hampden County. He will run in a primary to be held Sept. 9 and is hoping to replace Mark Mastroianni, who has been appointed as a federal judge. Etkin is a former assistant district attorney and former director at the Criminal Justice Training Center.
A member of Temple Beth El in Springfield, Etkin lives in Longmeadow with his wife, Linda.
Born in Springfield in 1957, Etkin grew up in the North End.
Etkin graduated from the High School of Commerce in 1975 and majored in Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. While in college, he met Linda, a fellow UMASS student who was born and raised in Greenfield. He graduated from UMASS in 1980 and then attended Western New England College School of Law (now Western New England University), graduating in 1984. He passed the bar and became an attorney in 1985.
While in law school, he was an intern in the Hampden County District Attorney’s office. In November of 1984, he was hired as an assistant district attorney.
“During my first three years with the office, I prosecuted cases in the District Court, ranging from drunk driving and drug offenses to violent crimes such as assault and battery and domestic abuse,” he said. “During this period, I handled thousands of cases. In addition to my normal duties, I was selected to develop several special initiatives for the office. Among those were the use of video recording for area police departments to improve the successful prosecutions of drunk drivers and the development of a new program called “Project DA”, which dealt with drug awareness. Through that program, I visited area schools to speak to students about the dangers associated with drug and alcohol abuse.”
In 1987, the District Attorney selected Etkin to be the Chief Prosecutor in the newly created Child Abuse Unit.
“Our unit was the first of its kind to use the ‘multi-disciplinary team’ (MDT) approach to investigating and prosecuting child abuse. This multi-disciplinary approach called for physicians, psychologists, social workers, police, and prosecutors to work together to comprehensively address all facets of a child abuse case. It enabled each team member to use their specific expertise to address the needs of both the case and the child.”
After leaving the District Attorney’s office, he served as a Police Prosecutor for the Southwick Police Department and was also an Assistant City Solicitor for the City of Springfield for almost four years. He became the academy director at the Criminal Justice Training Center in February 1993. As academy director, he taught police officers courses on Constitutional Law, Civil Rights, Sexual Assault, Child Abuse, District Court Prosecutions, Domestic Violence, Courtroom Testimony and Procedure, and Search and Seizure Law. He also has taught a variety of legal and criminal justice courses at Quincy College, Anna Maria College, Baypath College, and Springfield Technical Community College.
Etkin is currently on the board of directors of the Springfield Boys and Girls Club, the Springfield Drama Studio, is a member of the Hampden County Bar Association, and volunteers at Baystate Medical Center.
“I believe that to be an effective District Attorney, crime prevention is as important as prosecution. When I began my campaign in February, I promised that on each and every Monday I would release an initiative relating to how the DA’s office can reduce crime, help victims, and be more transparent and efficient,” he said. “We must all work together to make Hampden County safe. We need to stop gang and gun violence in our cities. We need to ensure that we are safe in our homes and work places. We must provide treatment options for our youth addicted to drugs, while also locking up the drug suppliers who contaminate our streets. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we must increase the protection afforded to victims of child, elderly, and domestic abuse.”