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Daniel Higgins, Candidate for Cape & Islands District Attorney in Massachusetts

As a part of my Meet the Candidate Series, I sat down and talked with Daniel Higgins, Candidate for Cape & Islands District Attorney in Massachusetts.

Dan Higgins, with life-long roots on the Cape and Islands, is devoted to the safety of the people of Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket counties. After years of experience working under District Attorney Michael O’Keefe, Dan is uniquely positioned to make positive change in the lives of families, seniors, young people, and businesses on Cape Cod. It is his connection to the Cape and his experience ensuring the safety of his neighbors that has led to his dedication and passion to fight for the people of Cape Cod as their next District Attorney. Explore the site to learn more about the issues that concern Dan, his plan to tackle the problems facing its residents, and ways you can join the cause.

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Transcript – Please note, this Transcript is AI Generated. It has not had the discerning ears of a real human to edit it, as such, there are bound to be a few errors

Daniel Higgins 0:00
And now unfortunately we’re seeing fentanyl or a version of it in almost every illicit drug sale you know at the street level, even marijuana

Jimmy Tingle 0:14
Hey everybody, welcome back to the Jimmy tingle show. I am Jimmy as I hope you know by now, we are in an undisclosed location on Cape Cod ladies and gentlemen today because last night I had to work on the cape and I have to work there tonight. So I got this hotel room and this is our first remote podcast. So I’m really glad that you are able to tune in and I’m really glad that we were able to facilitate it. Right now. Our guest today is running for District Attorney for the Cayman Islands. He’s running as a Republican, and his name is Dan Higgins. He has been a prosecutor on Cape Cod For 13 years. He lives with his wife and son in West Barnstable. Please welcome to the show. The one and only drumroll, please. Mr. Dan Hagen’s. Hello, Dan. How are you?

Daniel Higgins 0:58
Thank you, Jimmy. Good morning. Good. Thank you. And thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be on your podcast.

Jimmy Tingle 1:04
It’s our pleasure to have you. Thanks so much for doing it. So Dan, just tell the people basically who you are and why you’re running.

Daniel Higgins 1:11
Sure. Thanks, Jamie. My name is Dan Higgins. I’m running for District Attorney for the cape and islands. I’ve been a prosecutor for 13 years on the cape and islands serving the community here. The district current district attorney is retiring and it is an open seat at this time, I threw my hat in the ring after having a conversation with the senior prosecutors in the office. I came out of a three way Republican primary after winning that we changed into gear for the general election mode. And now I’m asking the voters to consider me as their next District Attorney. I’ve been in the office 13 years as prosecutor, seven years doing Superior Court work seven years as a supervisor of about a team of about 10 District Court prosecutors five district courts across the cape and islands. And I love the job. And I’ve put my name forward for the voters to consider me and I would be honored to be the next District Attorney.

Jimmy Tingle 2:04
Tell me dan and your 13 years of prosecuting on the cape. What are some of the biggest challenges for the cape and islands?

Daniel Higgins 2:10
Jimmy I think it’s it’s, it’s well known, certainly that fentanyl is a current problem in the drug trade on Cape Cod. You know, previously we saw oxycodone, you know, 15 years ago, then the heroin replaced that as a as a cheaper, more accessible drug. And now unfortunately, we’re seeing fentanyl or a version of it in almost every illicit drug sale, you know, at the street level, even marijuana. And the problem with that is the legislature tries to keep up with fentanyl car fentanyl. But they create new salts derivatives new versions of these drugs, they’re essentially designer drugs. And they throw them into the product that they’re selling on the street, even if they call it heroin. At this point, it’s just other stuff and fentanyl and the danger to the people on the cape and islands. Those who might turn to us it is the risk certainly of overdosing. And as our job is to prosecute those who are peddling it to the vulnerable citizens of the cape and islands. And so that is the drug trafficking, that we treat those cases very seriously. Put them to a grand jury, indict them into the Superior Court and seek very serious penalties under a number of statutes that we’re able to use, depending if it’s a combination of heroin or solely fentanyl.

Jimmy Tingle 3:29
So over your 13 years, have you had a lot of success in prosecuting people? And is the Cape’s location, obviously on the water? Is that a contributing factor to the drug trade in this area? So

Daniel Higgins 3:45
I’ll answer both those questions. So you know, success? Yes, I think so. I don’t keep statistics. I don’t measure my success. I’m guilty or not guilty after trial. I measure my success on connection with victims victims who stay with us through a long, long legal process, sometimes a year, sometimes more than that, especially during COVID when the court system unfortunately shut down due to the COVID issue. And you know, victims have to hang in there for quite a long time. We have private meetings with them in the back room, and some are too scared to testify. Others are willing to stand up for themselves. And it’s our job to hold their hand through the process, inform them of the court process and see if they are willing to testify in the case so that the Commonwealth can prosecute the violent offender in those situations. And it’s very meaningful job. There’s boring days just like any other job, Jimmy, and then there’s meaningful ones and those are the days those connections with victims when we get justice for them or when we have those meaningful private conversations. Those are the days that remind us as prosecutors and victim witness advocates. Why do we do this job? It’s certainly not for the money. Jimmy I can tell you that. I you know your second question the body of water certainly. We are actually three counties this office so we’re a little different that way we’re Barnstable All of the cape were in Nantucket and we’re Dukes Martha’s Vineyard. And so the water, you know, certainly we have to take boats and planes to go to those other courthouses on the islands. But in terms of the drug trade, you know, no, we’re not seeing submarines landing like in Miami during the cocaine era in Florida there, we’re seeing it come in, in vet in small amounts, it’s likely just coming over the bridge in cars, there is a vessel traffic shore, there is potential for it to come in on fishing boats. And I will say this about fentanyl, it is so small and so potent. They only need to get a small amount in and then they cut it with other other things, obviously, inositol, etc. And they they beef it up. So the product is so powerful and so small, we can never fully stop it from coming into any community. Our job, our calling as prosecutors is to try and interdict it through drug task task forces prosecute those dealers, because we shouldn’t be doing that. But also to educate and get to people when they are younger in school to warn them about it. And also to use our funds or discretionary funds to devote to the good organizations in our community. We’re working towards increasing treatment in this area for those who are willing to seek it.

Jimmy Tingle 6:11
When you speak about victims, as you said, you walk a victim through a case sometimes up to a year. How do you define victim? In this case? Are you talking about the victim of an assault and battery or the victim of a user? Or how do you define victim?

Daniel Higgins 6:25
Sure, so it’s different in every case, Jimmy often what I’m mainly talking about our violent cases, you know, bad domestic situations, stabbings, shootings, sometimes a victim’s family of a dissident, you know, in a motor vehicle homicide, or in a murder case, we meet with these people, and many of them have never been in the court system before. They’ve never watched a criminal case before. And our job is to tell them how it works, inform them of their rights as victims, inform them of the rights of the defendant, the court process, the role of the prosecutor and the role of the judge and the defense attorney. And so our job is to guide them if you will, and shed some light on a very long and fine process. But it is set up that way to not only protect the rights of the defendant, but to come to a good conclusion adjust result at the end of the case at the end of discovery and motions. And so it can be a frustrating process. You know, it would be ideal if if people could hear the end of a case earlier on it would give them some sense of satisfaction, to have an immediacy to it. But that’s not how the court system works. It can’t be it’s an adversarial process. It’s a very fine one. Our job is to guide them through that long process.

Jimmy Tingle 7:40
How do you think the cape and islands are doing in terms of the treatment for the the uses of these drugs? How do you think we’re doing in that respect?

Daniel Higgins 7:50
Sure. I mean, you know, we have certainly a shortage of of beds in terms of STDs, substance abuse, Treatment, Substance Use Disorder, also mental health. But that’s not the only issue in terms of treatment. There’s also interim housing. So when someone goes to that acute care say they go to Gosnell for a detox because they’re willing to they get in there MassHealth or private insurance covers it, they go through that several day or week long detox. And now as they enter what we call kind of an outpatient setting, in intensive outpatient care, they need somewhere to be now sometimes they’re a homeless individual with nowhere else to go. Other times they have family they have an apartment they have friends they were living with. The question is, is that best for the person who’s trying to be clean and sober to go back into the environment, where they had the connections, right where they had the use problems, so often they’re looking for a new safe environment to be in, you know, there is a lack of transitional homes, they need more housing, more beds for that. I think that a treatment of someone who’s has a heroin use problem or fentanyl problem. It’s not just a week long detox, we know that it’s it potentially a lifelong battle with substance abuse disorder. We all know someone in our lives, alcohol or some other substance. We know there can be trips along the way. They need a long term solution. There’s many organizations on the cape that are trying to provide that Duffy health Gosnold great organizations trying to provide that and there’s different avenues. There is you know, drug assisted or narcotic assisted, there’s counseling, there is acupuncture, there’s other kinds of therapy. It’s whatever works for the individual. I think that certainly there are resources and money the state can bring to bear in that area. And they should bolster these good organizations who are doing the work here. But housing on the Cape, certainly an ongoing issue. Currently, you know, more so now because of the economy, but even prior to that the cape has a lot of second homes. It’s high real estate prices. Even before COVID, you know, I was lucky enough to buy a home with my wife prior to COVID. Had we waited or not been able to buy then prices have really doubled. Jimmy, it’s it’s tough out there. So in terms of the drug treatment, there is a need for an intermediate housing while they’re trying to keep themselves clean after that acute detox care.

Jimmy Tingle 10:21
Tell me in terms of I know there’s a ballot question about driver’s licenses for undocumented people in the state of Massachusetts, I know that the restaurants and a lot of the businesses were really short on labor, especially during COVID. And last summer, it Do you have feelings one way or the other around the ballot question? And do you end up prosecuting immigrant issues? Immigrant defendants on the cape? Sure. So

Daniel Higgins 10:52
first, you know, we don’t ask someone their country of origin, we don’t ask them if they’re a citizen or not, it would be inappropriate for us to be doing that, during what is an adversarial process, we do look fairly at whether they’re able to get a license or not. So sometimes, defendant pro se, in one of these misdemeanor or finable, offenses, you know, unlicensed, they’ll tell us sometimes sometimes they have a translator with them that the court provides. And we do have a strong community down here in the service industry, a Brazilian population, Jamaican population, and some of them are ineligible for licenses. Now, we look at those cases fairly often we’re talking about court costs here, no conviction, if there is an accident, we certainly have an interest that any victim property victim or injury victim is, you know, accounted for financially in terms of medical care or making them hold the damage to their car. And in many of these cases, there are there already is insurance, often these cars are registered to the employer of the individual. And the insurance carrier is there, we see proof of the insurance coverage, you know, and it’s a different story. If someone doesn’t listen, and they keep doing it, right. But we look at these things fairly. We’re often talking about core costs here, we want to make sure any victim property victim is made whole. And, you know, I think it’s an important question for the citizens to decide. You know, I don’t think that the RMV is ideally suited to investigate who someone really is and look at foreign documents, they’re not. I’ve seen the court system, the judges and the probation department struggle with someone who can’t provide any identification. I’ve seen them struggle to try and confirm the identity based on just self reporting of the person who’s under arrest in lockup for a more serious crime. And often it takes the jail to do a little more investigation and talk to their law enforcement resources to try and determine a true identity. You know, our RMV already has a big job, a lot of paperwork, a lot of responsibility. I don’t think they’re ideally suited to do that. Now, why does that even relate to our job? Well, as the head law enforcement official, potentially, as a district attorney, you know, we we set the tone, I think, for a lot of, you know, police work in law enforcement on the cape. In law enforcement, when they’re investigating something, hit and run the motor vehicle homicide, a drug car stop, they rely on the state issued license to have meaning to it and confirm who the holder of that license is not only the actual document, but then they run it in the RMV. And we want to be able to rely on those identities. So police can rely on it. And I think that’s part of the issue here is whether the RMV is best suited to confirm the identity for some law enforcement organization or federal organization.

Jimmy Tingle 13:40
So you would be opposed to the you’d be opposed to the question of driver’s licenses for people who are not citizens.

Daniel Higgins 13:48
Yes. As written from a law enforcement perspective, yes.

Jimmy Tingle 13:51
Okay. Because it’s, I know, it’s a big issue in the case, I look at these restaurants and all these places, and they’re going we need help. Like, for example, the Martha’s Vineyard thing, you know, when those people came from Florida from Governor DeSantis, and they landed, there were people on Martha’s Vineyard, who were very welcoming. And I imagine there was some, some restaurants and some business establishments say, and you know, we probably have an opening. I know it’s a big, it’s tough thing. It’s a federal issue as well, which makes it even more difficult. Tell me the other ballot question is the millionaire’s tax or the fair share amendment? Do you have any feelings on that one way or the other? That would that be good for the state in terms of your resources? Or do you think that would be detrimental to people in businesses?

Daniel Higgins 14:40
You know, Jimmy, I wouldn’t weigh in on that one. I’ve been so focused on my race. I, I don’t even watch TV. Now. I have zero time to myself. So I don’t think that one’s really related to my race. So I don’t think it’d be appropriate of me to try and weigh in on that one.

Jimmy Tingle 14:54
No problem, because you were talking about resources. I’ve been trying to do the ballot questions. We did a couple of interviews about question four and question one and trying to get both sides. So the listeners can have an idea because they like a lot of people, they Hidden Hearing bits and pieces of the arguments on both sides. So that’s great. So Jen, tell us, ideally, what would you like to accomplish as dA and where can people find out more about your campaign?

Daniel Higgins 15:22
Jimmy, thank you very much. I think I could hit the ground running as dA. I’ve been a supervisor in the office for over seven years. I’ve been a prosecutor for 13 years. I know the many qualified professionals that work in this district attorney’s office, they’ve been working here anywhere from two years to 20 years. I know them I know the good work that they do in the courtroom every day. I think it sometimes can feel underappreciated. There’s not media in the courtroom. You know, there’s not always headlines, the good results that they get, it depends what captures the attention of the public at any given moment. I think I’m well suited to be the district attorney. I’ll bring some youth to the seat here for the cape and islands. I don’t believe this is a very political position. I never intended to run for an elected position. I love this job. I love being a prosecutor. I think this is a professional position. And I want to keep an experienced leader at the helm. These days have so much experience and these victim witness advocates, they need someone that they know has cut their teeth doing their job they’ve learned from the ground up, they know the burden that they’re under the pay that they suffered through the second jobs that they work in the evening to get by. But the meaning is there for this job. I would love to have the support of anyone listening to this show who would like to learn more about me. It’s Higgins for da.com fo r da.com. Also on our Facebook, which is very active. You can go to Higgins for da and see our Facebook page. It’s Dan Higgins for keeping Island’s district attorney. And you’ll see us out there at standouts and rotaries and knocking on doors and at local meetings and union meetings. And if we haven’t already met yet, please reach out to us. We happy to hear from anyone with questions or you’d like to volunteer and help us out. Thank you Jimmy.

Jimmy Tingle 17:06
Thank you so much, Dan for joining us today. Dan Hagen’s candidate for district attorney on the cape and islands prosecuted for 13 years here on the cape and islands currently resides in West Barnstable with his wife and son, Dan, best of luck on the campaign trail. I might see you out there on the cape. Right now I’m barnstorming myself to Falmouth and Cotuit. So I might see you on the road. Thanks again for joining us and continued success and good luck on the campaign.

Daniel Higgins 17:32
Thank you for having me. Jimmy, good to have you on the cape as well. Thank you.

Jimmy Tingle 17:35
Thank you. Thank you for joining us today. This has been a humor for humanity production. Our mission is your mission tomorrow for humanity. Jimmy tingle.com Thank you

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