Baker taps Worcester prosecutor as public safety secretary

Final cabinet pick draws praise from lawmakers


GOV. CHARLIE BAKER on Wednesday called his pick for state public safety chief a “proven manager” as top House lawmakers welcomed the choice of a Worcester County prosecutor.

Daniel Bennett, a 53-year-old senior first assistant district attorney in Worcester County, will join the Baker administration in February, filling the last open slot in the cabinet. In 2013, Bennett was named “Prosecutor of the Year” by the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association.

“I think he brings a tremendous amount of experience across a wide range of public safety issues to this exercise,” Baker said.

“He’s a proven manager who is really respected by everybody who’s ever worked with him, and I was really impressed, as was Karyn Polito when we interviewed him, with his thoughts about things we could do to significantly improve the way we handle public safety matters here in the Commonwealth,” Baker added, referring to Lt. Gov. Polito.

Bennett was not available for an interview Wednesday. He is slated to start the job the first week in February.

A graduate of Harvard University and Suffolk University Law School, Bennett has worked in the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office since 2011. Between 2006 and 2011, he was senior trial counsel in the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office.

From 1998 to 2006, he was in private practice in Quincy, and before that spent time as an assistant district attorney in the Suffolk County District Attorney Office’s gang unit and as an assistant district attorney in Middlesex County.

Rep. Hank Naughton, a Clinton Democrat who co-chaired the Joint Committee on Public Safety last year, said Bennett has a “deep knowledge” of the state judicial system.

Bennett will replace Andrea Cabral, the former Suffolk County sheriff who served as former Gov. Deval Patrick’s public safety secretary.

Likely priorities for Bennett will include cybersecurity, implementation of the gun safety law passed by the Legislature last year and lessons learned from the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, according to Naughton.

Naughton said he liked that Baker reached beyond the “eastern Mass. environs” for the choice. Bennett lives in Sherborn.

“I think it’s a good move and covers a lot of bases,” he said. “I think he brings a fresh point of view.”

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Rep. David Linsky’s time as an assistant district attorney in Middlesex County overlapped with part of Bennett’s tenure in the same job.

“He’s quiet, he’s unassuming, by-the-book, straight shooter, knows the criminal justice system in and out,” said Linsky, a Natick Democrat.