ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO ANNOUNCES PROMOTIONS OF 22 OFFICERS AT THE ESSEX COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
Married Couple Becomes First-Ever in Correctional Facility History to Receive Promotions at the Same Time
Newark, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced 22 officers from the Essex County Correctional Facility were promoted during a Department of Corrections Promotion Ceremony on Thursday, February 21st at the Essex County LeRoy F. Smith, Jr. Public Safety Building in Newark. During the ceremony, one officer was promoted to the rank of Captain, nine officers were promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and 12 officers were promoted to the rank of Sergeant. This group of superior officers also includes the first married couple in the history of the Essex County Department of Corrections to receive their promotions at the same time. Officers receiving promotions were elevated in rank in October 2012 and February 2013; the ceremony in October was postponed due to Hurricane Sandy.
“Being a Corrections Officer is a demanding job and it takes a person with special qualities and skills to carry out the responsibility of taking care of our inmate population,” DiVincenzo said. “This qualified group of men and women will serve as role models and mentors to our younger Corrections Officers, and form the core of leadership at our Essex County Correctional Facility. I congratulate our officers on their well-deserved promotions, for working hard and taking on additional responsibility,” he noted.
“You have earned the right to be where you are at today. What you have accomplished does not come easy and you earned it because of your dedication and perseverance,” Sheriff Armando Fontoura said. “We need the cream of the crop to keep our jail as the best correctional facility in the state. That’s what we need you all to do,” he added.
“Congratulations to the men and women being promoted. This is a very diverse that reflects the population of Essex County,” Freeholder Rufus Johnson, who serves as Chairman of the Freeholder Penal Committee, said. “I wish you all the best of luck and know that you will get the job done in the most professional manner,” he added.
“As the newest class of superior officers, you form the core of leadership at the facility, and will serve as role models and mentors for the officers you are charged to lead,” Freeholder Gerald Owens said. “This is an immense challenge, but we know that you are up to the task, and that you will continue to demand professional excellence at our Correctional Facility,” he added.
“Under the leadership of our County Executive, our state-of-the-art Correctional Facility was constructed and has become a model institution,” Essex County Corrections Director Alfaro Ortiz said. “We commend these men and women on their promotions and look forward to them serving as a foundation of leadership for years to come,” he added.
It was a special day for Lt. Darrell Jones and Sgt. Dana Paris-Jones, who met each other while working for the Essex County Department of Corrections, were married and became the first married couple in the history of the Department to receive their promotions at the same time.
Promoted to the rank of Captain was as follows:
Capt. Daniel W. Christofferson began his career with the Essex County Department of Corrections in 1996, and was promoted to Sergeant in 2006 and Lieutenant in 2009. As a Corrections Officer, he provided general security in a custody unit and was Team Leader of the Special Emergency Response Team, which responds to emergency situations within the facility. As a sergeant, he was a Custody Supervisor responsible for 14 officers and 512 inmates in a maximum security housing unit. As a lieutenant, he was Commander of the Security Operations Bureau where he was responsible for inspections, searches and control of keys and tools. In June 2012, Christofferson was selected to serve as Chief of Security/ACA Compliance, with the goal of achieving full accreditation from the American Correctional Association.
Officers promoted to Lieutenant are as follows:
Lt. Steven R. Alese joined the department in 2004. He graduated from the Essex County College Police Academy as Valedictorian and Commanding Officer in 2006 and was promoted to Sergeant in 2009. Alese has been assigned to the Policy and Planning Unit since its inception in 2007 and has been instrumental in helping the department to achieve and maintain 100 percent compliance with NJ Department of Corrections regulations. He is very involved in the County’s current efforts to achieve federal compliance with ACA and the Performance Based National Detention Standards.
Lt. Jose E. Badillo began his career in corrections in Union County in 1995 and was Valedictorian and Class President of his academy graduation class. He came to Essex County in 2001 and was promoted to Sergeant in 2006. Badillo has served in numerous capacities at the jail, including the EMT Unit for which he received a Life Saving Award in 2010 and as an instructor with the Training Unit. He currently is the Disciplinary Supervisor for the Correctional Facility and is MOI (methods of instruction) certified.
Lt. Carmine Cardella was hired in 1999 and was promoted to Sergeant in 2007. He graduated from the Essex County College Police Academy in 2001 and primarily has worked with the custody of inmates. He is married and has two children.
Lt. Richard Ferruggia was hired in 1992 and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 2007. He graduated from the Essex County College Police Academy in 1996 and has worked intake, processing and records for the Federal Detainee program. He is married and has one daughter.
Lt. Darrell Jones began his career as a Correction Officer in 1994 and was promoted to Sergeant in 2006.During his 19-year career, he has held various administrative and training positions. As a Sergeant, he was assigned to the Administrative Division of the Staff Operations Bureau, where he was responsible for overseeing the facility shift schedules and payroll departments. Jones has several certifications from the Essex County College Police Academy and the National Institute of Corrections, which allows him to serve as an academy drill instructor and scheduling officer, received the Essex County TeamworkAward in November 2012 and was achieved perfect attendance eight times.
Lt. Jacqueline H. Lewis joined the department in 1994. She received the Father Robert F. Grady Memorial Award for academic achievement upon graduating the Academy in 1996. In 2006, she was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and has served in the custody housing areas, the intake and receiving area, and the record room.In 1997, Lt. Lewis received an award for distinguished service from the Essex County PBA Conference for coming to the aid of a fellow officer and has received the Essex County Correctional Facility’s Shift Commander Award, Warden Citations and Perfect Attendance Awards.
Lt. Dominic Tafuri joined the department in 1999 and was promoted to Sergeant in 2006. He has served in the Officer Discipline Unit, Internal Affairs-Gang Intelligence Unit and currently is a member of the Correctional Housing and Revenue Team (CHART) where he has been assigned since 2008. Tafuri received a Warden Citation for entering a cell engulfed in flames to save an inmate’s life, Warden Citation for “working well” with gang members (Bloods and Crips), Class B Distinguished Service Award and an Essex County PBA Conference award for serving a high-risk warrant with the Essex County SERT.
Lt. Taisha D. Williams joined the department in 1996 and was promoted to Sergeant in 2007. She has worked in virtually every area of the jail during her career, including Emergency Medical Technician. Williams was recognized with the County Executive’s Teamwork Award in November 2010 and has a degree from Rutgers University.
Lt. Michael Wohl was hired in 1996 and was promoted to Sergeant in 2006. He graduated from the Essex County College Police Academy in 1997 and received training as a K-9 handler in 1999. He has worked in various areas of the facility and was assigned to the ICE Housing Unit in 2011. He received the Essex County Executive’s Teamwork Award in 2012.
Officers promoted to Sergeant include the following:
Sgt. Todd A. Barcliff joined the department in 1997. He has worked in various custody posts, served in the Records Room and has been assigned to the VTC (video court) program for the last eight years.
Sgt. Ivan Blanford joined the department in 2005. He has been a member of the Restricted Activities Program for the last several years and received an award for academic achievement from the Academy in 2008.
Sgt. Shreekk Crawford started his career with Essex County Corrections in 2005 and graduated from the Essex County College Police Academy in 2006. While in the Academy, he received the Highest Academic Achievement Award, Outstanding Physical Fitness Award and Highest Proficiency Award in Shooting. In his eight years with the Department, he was worked exclusively with the custody of inmates. He earned a Master’s Degree in Education in 2010 and a “specialist” degree in education, human resources and training from Seton Hall University.
Sgt. Jerry A. Del Guercio joined the department in 2003. He has worked in various areas of the jail, including the Policy and Planning Department. Del Guercio has received awards for Perfect Attendance, a Warden’s Citation and was Squad Leader in his academy class.
Sgt. Wali Gibson became a Corrections Officer in 2001 and has worked inmate custody in his 11 years with the Department. He veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom, and, during his nine years in the military, attained 88 MIC MOS and a 71 Lima MOS.
Sgt. Gerardo Gonzalez was hired at the Correctional Facility in 2007 and graduated from the Essex County College Police Academy in 2009. While at the Academy, he was a Squad Leader and was selected to work in the RAP program. He was previously assigned to manage “problematic” inmates and the CHART intake area, which is responsible for detaining, transferring and releasing all ICE detainees.
Sgt. Christian Herrera served three years in the U.S. Army as a Paratrooper before being hired by Essex County Corrections in 2005. He graduated from the Essex County College Police Academy in 2006 and has held many different assignments within the Correctional Facility, including housing units, transportation, the visitors lobby, Training Bureau, Fire, Health and Safety Bureau, Policy and Planning Bureau and Recruitment Bureau.
Sgt. Innocent Ihenakwe joined the department in 1994. He has been assigned to various areas of the jail during his career and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University.
Sgt. Ralph E. Johnson joined the department in 1996. He has served in varied areas of the jail, including two years on an outside hospital post, and is currently focused on ICE detainee management, the Special Housing Unit and ACA accreditation. He has a Master’s Degree in Education Administration and Supervision.
Sgt. Cynthia Lynn joined the department in 1996. She has served in the Mail Room/Property, Counts, and Classification, and is certified as a Firearms Instructor, Pepper Ball Instructor, Terminal Agency Coordinator, among others. She has received recognition from PBA Local 157, a Warden’s Citation, the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department and a Merit Award from FOP Lodge 171.
Sgt. Dana Paris-Jones joined the department in 1994. She has served in various custodial and administrative roles during her career, including Intake/Records Officer, social worker, and as a Principal Investigator with the Internal Affairs Bureau. Paris-Jones has been cited for perfect attendance several times and received a commendation from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Stockton College.
Sgt. Mark Piccininno joined the department in 2004. He has been assigned to the Housing and Revenue Team (CHART) since 2008 and was a member of the Transportation Operations Unit and the ICE/Federal processing area/Intake within the CHART Division. He has an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Essex County College.
Each of the superior officers completed a 40-hour supervisor training course, which is a staff development and preparation review of policies, procedures, defensive tactics, ethics training and interpersonal skills training to prepare the officers for their new responsibilities.
The $416 million Correctional Facility was just 40 percent completed when DiVincenzo took office in January 2003. The County Executive restored order to the project and construction was completed in just 12 months. The transition from two antiquated jails took only three months and the 2,100 inmates were transferred into the new facility over two weekends in March 2004. The Correctional Facility was designed to house about 2,370 inmates and is equipped with cutting edge technology.
The Corrections Department has received 100 percent compliance with the New Jersey State Department of Corrections for the past six years (2006-2012) and has been accredited by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities since 2007. It is the only facility in New Jersey to have received the Ambassador Award from the New Jersey Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma, which it earned in 2008. In addition, it has successfully passed inspections by Creative Corrections in 2008, Detention Field Inspection Group in 2009, MGT of America, Inc. from 2008 to the present and the Nakamoto Group, Inc. in 2008 and 2009, which determine that the Correctional Facility is meeting the highest standards to house federal inmates and immigration detainees.