Essex Sheriff Lowers Hiring Age for Correctional Officers from 21 Years Old to 19

Sheriff Coppinger cites critical staffing challenges as reason for new policy

MIDDLETON — The Essex County Sheriff’s Department is lowering its minimum age for correctional officers from 21 years old to 19 years old to help address a critical shortage of officers.

With staffing shortages being what they are, the Essex County Sheriff’s Department is expanding its pool of candidates in combination with an enhanced focus on applicant qualifications, staff training, and first-line supervision upon graduation. This is not the first time Essex County has recruited candidates at a younger age. Several veteran officers began their careers here at age 19 and have proven to be very successful in our employ.

“All law enforcement agencies are struggling to fill positions, but the need is even more dire in correctional facilities. By lowering the age to 19, we can provide an opportunity for younger people to begin their law enforcement career upon graduating high school,” said Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger. “Correctional officers are not just responsible for the care, custody, and control of inmates. They are responsible for helping those that come to us leave our facilities ready for life as a successful citizen — and we need more officers to continue to fulfill this mission.”

New correctional officers receive a $2,500 sign-on bonus and a salary of up to $68,000 a year. New hires are also eligible for the state’s tuition reimbursement program that covers up to 100 percent of tuition at state educational institutions.

“The economy is putting a strain on our families, making it harder and harder for many to pay for college. For high school graduates looking to begin their career in law enforcement, this opportunity provides a high-paying job and tuition reimbursements at state schools,” Sheriff Coppinger said. “We can help the right candidates get the education and experience they want to join us in the rewarding career in law enforcement.”

The Essex County Sheriff’s Department will begin accepting applications Monday, Feb. 27, from those who will be 19 years old as of June 1, 2023.

For more information, please contact Gretchen Grosky at (617) 285-6390 or by emailing her at