Law & Justice

Essex County Department of Corrections Promotes 22 Corrections Officers

February 22, 2013 at 5:27 PM

NEWARK, NJ - Thursday was a special day for Lt. Darrell Jones and Sgt. Dana Paris-Jones, when they became the first married couple in the history of the Essex County Department of Corrections to receive their promotions at the same time. Jones and Paris-Jones met each other while working for the department of Corrections and eventually married; the couple were two of 22 corrections officers who were elevated in rank at the LeRoy F. Smith, Jr. Public Safety Building in Newark.

From Right to Left: Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., Lt. Darrell
Jones, Sgt. Donna Paris-Jones, Essex County Corrections Director Alfaro Ortz
Credit: Glen Frieson

“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.”

The officers received their promotions based on scores on civil service promotional exams after being eligible for the test.

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. commented, “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. 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.”

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. addresses the officers
Credit: Glen Frieson

One officer, Daniel W. Christofferson, was promoted to the rank of Captain and achieved the following accomplishments:

  • 1996 - Corrections Officer, general security in a custody unit, Team Leader of Special Emergency Response Team
  • 2006 - promoted to Sergeant, Custody Supervisor in a maximum security housing unit
  • 2009 - promoted to Lieutenant, Commander of the Security Operations Bureau
  • 2012 - selected as Chief of Security/ACA Compliance

“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.”

Freeholder Gerald Owens addressed the officers. Credit: Glen Frieson

Nine officers were promoted to the rank of Lieutenant:

  • Lt. Steven R. Alese:
    2004 - Corrections Officer
    2006 - Commanding Officer; College Police Academy Valedictorian
    2007 - assigned to the Policy and Planning Unit
    2009 - promoted to Sergeant
    Experience - works with county to achieve federal ACA compliance and Performance Based National Detention Standards
  • Lt. Jose E. Badillo:
    1995 - Corrections Officer, Union County; Valedictorian and Class President
    2001 - Corrections Officer, Essex County
    2006 - promoted to Sergeant
    2010 - EMT Unit, instructor, Life Saving Award
    Experience - Disciplinary Supervisor, MOI (methods of instruction) certified
  • Lt. Carmine Cardella:
    1999 - Corrections Officer
    2001 - Essex County College Police Academy graduate
    2007 - promoted to Sergeant
    Experience - inmate custody
  • Lt. Richard Ferruggia:
    1992 - Corrections Officer
    1996 -  Essex County College Police Academy graduate
    2007 - promoted to Sergeant
    Experience  - Federal Detainee program, works intake, processing and records
  • Lt. Darrell Jones:
    1994 - Corrections Officer
    2006 - promoted to Sergeant, Administrative Division of the Staff Operations Bureau
    2012 - Essex County Teamwork Award
    Experience  - certified from Police Academy and National Institute of Corrections to serve as academy drill instructor and scheduling officer
  • Lt. Jacqueline H. Lewis:
    1994 - Corrections Officer
    1996 - Father Robert F. Grady Memorial Award for Academic Achievement
    1997 - Essex County PBA Conference Award for Distinguished Service for coming to the aid of a fellow officer; Shift Commander Award, Warden Citations and Perfect Attendance Awards
    2006 - promoted to Sergeant
    Experience - serves in custody housing, intake and receiving area, and  record room
  • Lt. Dominic Tafuri:
    1994 - Corrections Officer
    2006 - promoted to Sergeant
    2008 - Correctional Housing and Revenue Team (CHART)
    Awards - Warden Citations: for entering a cell engulfed in flames to save an inmate’s life, for “working well” with Bloods and Crips gang members, Class B Distinguished Service Award, Essex County PBA Conference Award for serving a high-risk warrant with Essex County SERT
    Experience - Officer Discipline Unit, Internal Affairs-Gang Intelligence Unit
  • Lt. Taisha D. Williams:
    1996 - Corrections Officer
    2007 - promoted to Sergeant
    2010 - Essex County Executive’s Teamwork Award
    Experience - Emergency Medical Technician, Rutgers University degree
  • Lt. Michael Wohl
    1996 - Corrections Officer
    1999 - Essex County College Police Academy graduate, K-9 handler training
    2006 - promoted to Sergeant
    2011 - ICE Housing Unit
    2012 - Essex County Executive’s Teamwork Award

Freeholder Rufus Johnson, who serves as Chairman of the Freeholder Penal Committee, commented, “Congratulations to the men and women being promoted. This is a very diverse that reflects the population of Essex County. I wish you all the best of luck and know that you will get the job done in the most professional manner.”

Freeholder Rufus Johnson, Chairman of the Freeholder Penal Committee, addressing
the officers.   Credit: Glen Frieson

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Twelve officers were promoted to the rank of Sergeant:

  • Sgt. Todd A. Barcliff:
    1997 - Corrections Officer
    Experience - custody posts, Records Room, VTC (video court) program
  • Sgt. Ivan Blanford:
    2005 - Corrections Officer
    2008 - Police Academy Award for Academic Achievement
    Experience - Restricted Activities Program
  • Sgt. Shreekk Crawford:
    2005 - Corrections Officer
    2006 - Essex County College Police Academy graduate; Highest Academic Achievement Award, Outstanding Physical Fitness Award, Highest Proficiency Award in Shooting
    2010 - Seton Hall Master’s Degree in Education,  “specialist” degree in education, human resources and training
    Experience - inmate custody
  • Sgt. Jerry A. Del Guercio:
    2003 - Corrections Officer
    Awards: Perfect Attendance, Warden’s Citation, Squad Leader in his academy class
    Experience - Policy and Planning Department
  • Sgt. Wali Gibson:
    2001 - Corrections Officer
    Veteran: Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom; attained 88 MIC MOS and a 71 Lima MOS
    Experience - inmate custody
  • Sgt. Gerardo Gonzalez
    2007 - Corrections Officer
    2009 - Essex County College Police Academy graduate; Squad Leader, RAP program
    Experience - problematic inmates, CHART intake area for all ICE detainees
  • Sgt. Christian Herrera:
    2002 - U.S. Army Paratrooper 
    2005 - Corrections Officer
    2006 - Essex County College Police Academy graduate 
    Experience - housing units, transportation, the visitors lobby, Training Bureau, Fire, Health and Safety Bureau, Policy and Planning Bureau, Recruitment Bureau.
  • Sgt. Innocent Ihenakwe:
    1994 - Corrections Officer
    Experience - various areas of jail; Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University
  • Sgt. Ralph E. Johnson:
    1994 - Corrections Officer
    Experience - two years on an outside hospital post, ICE detainee management, Special Housing Unit, ACA accreditation; Master’s Degree in Education Administration and Supervision
  • Sgt. Cynthia Lynn:
    1996 - Corrections Officer
    Awards: PBA Local 157, Warden’s Citation, Bergen County Sheriff’s Department, Merit Award from FOP Lodge 171
    Experience - Mail Room/Property, Counts, and Classification, certified as a Firearms Instructor, Pepper Ball Instructor, Terminal Agency Coordinator
  • Sgt. Dana Paris-Jones:
    1994 - Corrections Officer
    Awards: Perfect attendance citations, Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Commendation
    Experience - Intake/Records Officer, Social Worker, Principal Investigator with the Internal Affairs Bureau; Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Stockton College.
  • Sgt. Mark Piccininno:
    2004 - Corrections Officer
    2008 - Housing and Revenue Team (CHART)
    Experience - Transportation Operations Unit, ICE/Federal processing area/Intake within the CHART Division; Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Essex County College

“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.

Credit: Let It Grow

The Corrections Department has achieved the following which determines that the Correctional Facility is meeting the highest standards to house federal inmates and immigration detainees:

  • 2006-2012
    100% compliance with the New Jersey State Department of Corrections
  • 2007-2012
    National Commission on Correctional Health Care and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities accreditations
  • 2008-2012
    successfully passed MGT of America, Inc. inspections
  • 2008
    Ambassador Award from the New Jersey Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma - the only facility in New Jersey to receive this award
  • 2008
    successfully passed Creative Corrections inspections
  • 2008-2009
    successfully passed Nakamoto Group, Inc. inspections
  • 2009
    successfully passed Detention Field Inspection Group inspections

Thursday, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. put out the following announcement:

     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.

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.

For further information:

Essex County
County Executive:  Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.
465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard
Newark, NJ 07102

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