Steven Tompkins
Steven Tompkins
Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office

Governor Deval Patrick is poised to swear in the chief of external affairs for former Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral to succeed Cabral as the leader of the department, the largest county correctional system in the state.

Steven Tompkins is scheduled to take the oath of office at 5 p.m. today and will serve as the acting sheriff for Suffolk County until the 2014 general election.

“As a dedicated public servant on the frontlines of crime prevention and reentry rehabilitation, Steven brings first-hand knowledge and passion to this critical position,” Patrick said in a statement. “I am confident in his ability to serve Suffolk County in this role and I look forward to working with him to strengthen our re-entry programs and reduce youth violence.”

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In the same news release, Tompkins thanked Patrick for putting him in charge.

“I am inheriting a great Department with talented people who are committed to providing safe care and custody for individuals at our facilities and working with our external partners on a wide range of public safety issues,’’ Tompkins said. “I am honored by this appointment and accept its responsibility enthusiastically.”

In his biography posted on the sheriff’s website, Tompkins is described as the chief of external affairs for Cabral and the department. He holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Boston College and a master’s in public affairs from the University of Massachusetts.

State payroll records indicate that Tompkins made $123,731 in 2011, not much less than Cabral, who made $124,093.

“The Communications and External Affairs Division (CEAD) oversees all community outreach efforts on behalf of the Sheriff’s Department. The goal of this division is to develop media relations, increase transparency and community accessibility and deliver the Sheriff’s public safety message,’’ according to the posting.

Tompkins is credited in the posting with creating the Common Ground Institute, a community re-entry program for inmates who are about to be released, and The Choice Program, which sends correctional officers into Boston public school classrooms to teach children about “the value of self-respect, respect for others, good decision-making and the importance of self-esteem.’’

In addition to his job with the sheriff’s department, Tompkins is vice chairman of the board of trustees for Roxbury Community College and is a board member of the Boston Finance Commission, the state board charged with overseeing Boston’s municipal finances.

Cabral is resigning the sheriff’s post to become Patrick’s secretary of public safety, replacing Mary Beth Heffernan, whom Patrick has nominated for a district judgeship.

Tompkins lives in Hyde Park with his wife and two children.