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EdPDLaw Editorial
December 7, 2014

 
EDPDLAW RESPONDS TO ANONYMOUS EMAIL ON HUDSON COUNTY TITLES
 

EdPDLaw receives many anonymous emails from members who are afraid of retaliation from the County if they come forward.  We attempt to address each and every email and encourage you to keep writing.  No attempts are made to discover your identity, and if you want to reveal your identity, it will be kept confidential.  Your emails are deleted.

This morning EdPDLaw received an email pertaining to the Civil Service article that was written yesterday. (Click to see Civil Service Article).  It requested that an article be written explaining the titles in Hudson County:

After looking at other County Jails in NJ  many have Wardens and Undersheriffs . Those that have these titles with exception of Hudson  County appear to be Civilian Ceremonial Titles given to those appointed by the County Politicians.

 An article of some type outlining The definition of these Titles, What these Titles are?  Are they Civilian or Law Enforcement? What authority do they have? Etc. would be nice to see as the information on these positions and others will help readers understand the connections of titles to acts of misconduct at the facility.

Name withheld for own personal protection

Civil Service has the following titles in the County Corrections Title Series:

County Warden

County Deputy Warden

County Corrections Captain

County Corrections Lieutenant

County Correction Sergeant*

County Correction Sergeant/Training Officer*

County Correction Sergeant/Range Instructor*

County Correction Officer

* Same Qualifications listed on the Civil Service Web Site.

Most Counties follow these title series, and in fact Hudson County use to follow them as well.  Somewhere around the time that "Director" Oscar Aviles was appointed, Hudson County went off the ranch and figured out that if they used Civil Service Testing, they would not be able to get there people in the positions they wanted them.  This is exactly the reason Civil Service is created, to avoid stacking the deck which leads to all the problems and law suits now facing Hudson County.
 

Civil Service Mission Statement
 

The Core Mission of the Civil Service Commission is to provide a fair and efficient human resource delivery system that rewards quality, merit and productivity in a framework that allows Civil Service jurisdictions the flexibility necessary to manage their workforce, improve productivity and provide a more cost effective service delivery for state taxpayers by achieving the following:

  • Providing an employee selection system designed to attract and retain a high-quality, diverse workforce, in consultation with Civil Service jurisdictions, and in accordance with established merit system principles and guidelines;
  • Providing the regulatory framework for the administration of an equitable and expeditious dispute resolution process between Civil Service jurisdictions and their employees;
  • Providing services in the areas of classification, employee compensation, personnel records management, layoff administration, policy development and interpretation, rules compliance and organizational design;
  • Providing strategic, operational and technical support on a wide range of issues related to the Civil Service system to include the review and establishment of new position classifications, reclassification of existing positions to different titles, the review and approval of reductions-in-force, job classification reviews and appeals, assistance with organizational review and title structures and placement services through the administration of the certification process and determination of certification appeals.

In a 2011 report to the Union, EdPDLaw summarized Oscar Aviles rise to the position of Director as follows:

Excessive Discipline Protection Database

EdPDLaw Corruption Probe on behalf of Hudson County Correction Officers PBA Local # 109

Officer Luis Ocasio, President – Officer Daniel Murray, Grievance Committee Chairman

DISCIPLINE PRIOR TO PROMOTIONS

TITLE SHIFTING

Oscar Aviles, Director of Corrections

In October of 2004, Oscar Aviles held the civil service title of Captain but was appointed to the civilian title of Director of Corrections by Hudson County Executive, Thomas A. DeGise to replace Director Ralph Green. Prior to this appointment, in 2002 he served in the civilian title of Deputy Director with Captain Kirk Eady and Captain Calvin Roberts.  At this same time, there were 5 Captains on the civil service list for promotion to the civil service title of Deputy Warden:

  • 1.     Captain David Krusniz
  • 2.     Captain David Matthews
  • 3.     Captain Stevette Scott
  • 4.     Captain Robert Day
  • 5.     Captain Oscar Aviles

Captain Matthews was brought up on disciplinary charges for not completing paperwork properly, was suspended and skipped.  Captain Scott was also brought up on disciplinary charges for the same infraction, she received a 30 day suspension and was also skipped.  Similarly, Captain Day was brought up on disciplinary charges for not properly completing paperwork, suspended and skipped.  These three Captains were all disciplined when Oscar Aviles was in the civilian position of Director.  

In July of 2007, both Captain Krusniz and “Captain” Oscar Aviles were promoted to the civil service title of Deputy Warden. 

Oscar Aviles then stepped down from the civilian Director's position in order to accept the civil service promotion from Captain to Deputy Warden. Since Civil Service mandates that you serve a 90 day working probationary period of aggregate service in that rank for it to be official, Oscar Aviles had to step down from his civilian position for 90 days.  In order to preserve his position as “Director” and prevent civilian titled “Deputy Director” Eady from taking that position, Oscar Aviles went back in uniform as a Deputy Warden for approximately 97 days, and Sgt. Keith Stith, from the Prosecutor’s Office became acting Director for this time period. After the 97 days, Sgt. Stith returned to the Prosecutor’s Office after Oscar Aviles once again, successfully manipulated the system to his advantage and returned to the Director's position. On paper Sgt. Stith was in charge, but Oscar Aviles continued to run the jail.

In 2011 EdPDLaw obtained the Employee Profiles from Civil Service to ascertain the true Civil Service Titles for Oscar Aviles and then Deputy Director Kirk Eady. As you will see, they hold unclassified civilian titles outside of the Title Series for which there are no job descriptions.

Aviles Civil Service Title            Eady Civil Service Title

Their employee profiles show them taking a yearly leave of absence from their law enforcement positions.

11A:6-1. Leaves.
 
11A:6-1. Leaves. The Civil Service Commission shall designate the types of leaves and adopt rules for State employees in the career and senior executive services regarding procedures for sick leave, vacation leave and other designated leaves with or without pay as the Civil Service Commission may designate. Any political subdivision subject to the provisions of this title shall prepare procedures regarding these items.
 
In all cases, a leave of absence with or without pay shall not exceed a period of one year at any one time unless renewal or extension is granted upon written approval of the commission.

The AG Guidelines have outlined the limitations of a civilian director which is summarized in a 2007 publication by the New Jersey State Association of Chief of Police.  Correction Departments also follows N.J.A.C. 10A:31.  Click to get Code.

N.J.S.A. 40A:14-152; N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3

A civilian director may not perform police duties including conducting motor vehicle stops, engaging in patrol activities, answering calls for service and stopping or detaining individuals. A "director" may not wear a uniform or badge or carry a firearm, nor may he or she operate a motor vehicle which is equipped as a police car, including police band radios.  Likewise, they have no powers of arrest and may not issue firearms permits.

Deputy Director Eady took and failed the Deputy Wardens Test, appealed and lost.  A position of "confidential aide" was then created for him.  There are several clerical personnel that hold the same title.  Click to view Deputy Director Eady's web page.

In Hudson County the problems, which stem at the top, trickle their way down to the rank and file members and make it impossible to get fair treatment.  Grievances and discipline are dolled out and decided based on egos and favoritism ignoring the Rules & Regulations.  There have been several instances where the Rules & Regulations were changed to comport to charges which were previously served.

Discipline is selective as one officer will be charged and fired for calling a code and another will not.  Some members are made to take unpaid leave while others are given paid leave for almost an entire year (including Holiday pay and stipends) without justification.

Supervisors allege they are contacting the Legal Department for advice prior to taking disciplinary action against the rank and file membership.  This suggests that either the Supervisors are not relating the correct information to the Legal Department, that the Supervisors are only relating their side of the event, or that the Legal Department is not listening.  Why not intercede and prevent the problem before it turns into a 6 digit lawsuit?

Hudson County commissioned a study to address the problems which are created as a result of not utilizing the Civil Service testing to place qualified candidates in positions.

Excessive Discipline Protection Database

EdPDLaw Corruption Probe on behalf of Hudson County Correction Officers PBA Local # 109

Officer Luis Ocasio, President – Officer Daniel Murray, Grievance Committee Chairman

VOORHIS/ROBERTSON STUDY 2008

            In 2008, the Voorhis/Robertson Justice Services (hereinafter referred to as the “VRJS”) was hired to review the disciplinary procedures at the Corrections Facility.  This came as a result of the numerous complaints arising from “recent and current disputed” incidents which were surfacing both internally and publicly over the disciplinary practices.

            The VRJS was hired to review the discipline at the jail, they were not supply the discipline for review and consequently, the 44 page report which cost in excess of $40k, mostly only analyzed whether the policies themselves were discriminatory and did not address the selective application of the discipline.  Of the 35 documents supplied for review, only two of the items supplied would offer any statistical information on the frequency and severity of discipline. The two items supplied were listed as:

            34.       Preliminary report of Corrections disciplinary cases Jan. 1, 2006 to Dec. 31, 2007

            35.       List of Fines and Suspension 2005 to 2007

The other 33 items supplied to the VRJS were simply Policy and Procedure, Labor Agreements, outdated Guidelines for Disciplinary Penalties, Policy Manual in revision status and not issued, Post Orders – partial documents in revision status, Security Manual – partial document….etc.

See VRJS Summary Report for Hudson County at Pages 2-3 attached hereto as Exhibit “20” for the complete list.

 The VRJS reported:

“It appears that presently there are more litigious events involving staff than the inmate population.  When labor perceives that legitimate (or sometimes illegitimate) grievances or concerns are not addressed through established channels of communication, then the result is litigation and/or appeals.  A failure by the chain of command to address issues of concern to labor  and to make decisions on those concerns within a timely manner, fuels disgruntlement and gives a perceived legitimacy to labors need to resist change and seek other avenues for problem resolution.”

See VRJS Summary Report for Hudson County at Page 5, 2nd Paragraph attached hereto as Exhibit “20”.

“Severity of Discipline Actions

            VRJS did not review disciplinary investigations, findings, and sanction documents and other materials leading to the disciplinary actions.  VRJS did not review historic disciplinary issues confronting each case.  However, the high number of sanctions and the severity described by staffs of many levels within the organization were sufficient to cause subsequent review of disciplinary actions within the organization.

            The number and severity of disciplinary actions is a major concern of the majority of those employees interviewed and throughout most of the ranks of the department.

VRJS analysis of the environment indicates that there is a significant division between the goals of administration and the perceptions of the workforce as to the uniformity of enforcement of rules and regulations.  Such disparity has resulted in claims of discrimination from labor which has further complicated the approach to problem solving.

VRJS found that the number of disciplinary actions and the severity issuance of sanctions described and documented have been far more severe than organization in other states.

The apparent disciplinary problems of this organization are complex.  There is a strong shift from previously lax disciplinary enforcement to an extreme enforcement that can only be described as a serious situation.  The reasoning and complications are many but signal a deteriorating environment with strong employee resistance and much anger.  The anger and discontent cannot be overstated.  VRJS found dissatisfied, disgruntled and low morale staff environment.

See VRJS Summary Report for Hudson County at Page 40 attached hereto as Exhibit “20”.

EdPDLaw has reviewed numerous individual disciplinary investigations, findings, and sanction documents in conjunction with this investigation.  The results of which are staggering.   The VRJS recommended that an in depth review of the Hudson County Disciplinary procedures be conducted and stressed the importance of outside intervention.  Specifically:

“VRJS believes that without outside intervention on a continuing basis that the current structure will not resolve the complex issues confronting the organization.”           

See VRJS Summary Report for Hudson County at Page 41 attached hereto as Exhibit “20”.

 They further recommend:

            Conduct Internal Analysis of Employee Problems

            VRJS recommends that the detention command personnel conduct an internal analysis of the existing employee problems occurring within the detention center.  This audit should review the following areas:

o   Listing all employee problem areas by criteria – i.e., tardiness, dress code, etc.

o   Listing all of employees who have demonstrated repeated violations of the rules and regulations.

o   Analysis of what disciplinary procedures have been taken and why or why not have they been taken

o   Review of disciplinary activity and/or violations by assignment to first line supervisor

A historical analysis of what disciplinary actions were taken, when they were taken, who undertook the action, and the result of the action should be reviewed.  Included in this analysis is review of repeated negative behavior.  The questions to be asked are: is it employee specific, shift specific and/or supervisor specific?”

See VRJS Summary Report for Hudson County at Page 43 attached hereto as Exhibit “20”.

            EdPDLaw has attempted to do just that and has met with severe resistance from the Director of Corrections, Personnel Director, Anthony Stalteri and the Legal Department.  No disciplinary documentation was released despite the request from the individual officers and the submittal of formal Release and Authorizations for the information.

The VRJS Report was correct in that no changes or improvements have been made as Hudson County continues to do as it pleases resulting in more law suits.  Hudson County has the highest rate of OAL disciplinary decisions over the past 10 years.  Click to see the Numbers.

Click to get VRJS Report

They continue to promote unqualified personnel and ignore Civil Service Rules.

90% of these issues are avoidable by taking some simple steps:

1.    Civil Service Testing;

2.    Merit Based Promotions;

2.    Posting Open Positions;

3.    Training of Supervisors; and

4.    Completing thorough investigations prior to making disciplinary recommendations. 

 

Disclaimer:  EdPdLaw is an independently owned and operated web site.  The Editorials on the site are the sole opinions of EdPDLaw and not the opinion of Hudson County PBA Local #109.  PBA Local #109 has its own web site which can be accessed at www.PBA109.org.

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