Police & Fire

Morris County Freeholders to Take Over Management of the Morris County Jail

Credits: Morris Country Government

MORRIS COUNTY, NJ - The Morris County Board of Freeholders will take over management of the Morris County Jail on Sept. 1, 2015, removing Sheriff Edward Rochford as manager of jail operations.

Citing state law that allows freeholder boards to “exercise the custody, rule, keeping and charge of county jails,’’ the freeholder board voted Wednesday night to direct the county administrator to take all steps needed to assume direct control of the county lockup, which is located in Morris Township. The vote was 6-0. Freeholder John Cesaro abstained.

The freeholder board, in making its decision, cited ongoing fiscal differences with the sheriff, including excessive raises negotiated with corrections unions and huge overtime increases at the jail despite a marked reduction in the number of inmates. They also cited the sheriff’s unwillingness to cooperate with the County Office of Labor Relations, which has historically negotiated all labor contracts for the county, and with a general lack of communications on many issues.

Sign Up for E-News

The freeholders on Wednesday also voted to reject four labor agreements that have been negotiated this year by Sheriff Rochford, including two with corrections unions.

“The county has determined that it is in the best interests of Morris County to have the Morris County Freeholder Board assume complete and sole oversight of the corrections facility,’’ according to the resolution passed by the county governing board on Wednesday night." The County Administrator and County Counsel are hereby directed to take all necessary actions to implement this transfer…’’ according to the freeholder resolution.

To view the freeholder’s jail take over resolution, please visit: http://morriscountynj.gov/pdfs/resolution%20jail%20takeover.pdf

Sheriff Rochford declined an invitation to attend a freeholder board work session on Wednesday to discuss these issues, sending two surrogates instead.

The sheriff is currently a joint employer of corrections workers, along with the freeholders, and is subject to county government accounting controls and personnel procedures. The county administrator, through the Office of Labor Relations, and the sheriff have historically cooperated in negotiating contracts.

“But the sheriff did not consult or include the county and has totally ignored his statutory obligations,’’ instead acting solo this year to negotiate and sign labor agreements, which were subsequently ratified by the employees – but with no input from the freeholders, according to the resolutions passed on Wednesday.

The freeholders contend the sheriff knowingly negotiated contracts that far exceed the 2 percent hard cap the county has on potential pay hikes – based on Gov. Christie’s limits for government pay increases. In that regard, the freeholders on Wednesday night rejected all four contracts that have been negotiated this year solely by Sheriff Rochford, including:

  • Corrections Officers PBA Local 298, 7.9 percent annually.
  • Corrections Officers Superior Union, 5.3 percent.
  • Sheriff’s Officers PBA 151, 8.3 percent.
  • Sheriff’s Civilian Employees’ Association, 7.3 percent.

The freeholders contended that “the taxpayers of Morris County are being disrespected’’ by the solo actions taken by the sheriff.

To view the freeholder resolutions on rejection of the contracts, visit: http://morriscountynj.gov/pdfs/Resolution%20rejecting%20contracts.pdf

The Morris County Jail currently has 255 inmates and 165 employees. The census has declined substantially in recent years, dropping from a high of 376 in 2010 and 352 in 2012. But the staff has remained constant since 2010 at 165, while overtime costs have soared from $992,000 in 2010 to $1.9 million last year.

The county will immediately start the process of taking steps needed to assume control of the jail in September, said County Administrator John Bonanni.    

Eleven of 20 county jails in New Jersey are currently run directly by county government, with the other nine managed by sheriff’s departments. 


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


More Than Just Kindness for Roxbury Student Adored by Tragically Killed Boy

April 17, 2018

ROXBURY, NJ – She lost her 10-year-old son three years ago in a boating accident on Lake Hopatcong, but Laurie D’Amico is sure her beloved Christopher speaks to her all the time. It’s subtle but firm, she says; messages that come as sparks of recollection, inspiration or intuition.

One of those unexpected inklings led Laura and her husband Chris to a jewelry ...

Lake Hopatcong 'Floating Classroom' Launched at Roxbury

April 13, 2018

ROXBURY, NJ – The Lake Hopatcong Foundation on Wednesday launched onto Lake Hopatcong its long-awaited "floating classroom" educational vessel. The launch took place at Lake Hopatcong State Park in Landing.

The 40-foot covered catamaran pontoon boat seats 40. It will be used to teach area students and the public about Lake Hopatcong. The boat, built by ...

New Jersey Fashion Companies Capitalize on State Resources to Grow

April 19, 2018

NJ Business Action Center recently assisted Adore Me and Better Team USA to identify space and financing.

The U.S. apparel market is the largest in the world, valued at over 360 billion dollars. However, the market has been disrupted by the rise of e-commerce, and is moving beyond established locations like NYC’s garment district. 

That said, like every industry, fashion ...

Reduce Your Risk for Colorectal Cancer

April 25, 2018

Morristown Medical Center’s Carol G. Simon Cancer Center presents “Protecting Your Colorectal Health” on Tuesday, May 1from 6:00 to 8:00pm at the Morristown Medical Center Health Pavilion, 333 Mount Hope Avenue in Rockaway. Admission is free.

This popular, educational program presents an opportunity to hear up-to-date presentations from leading ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, April 28, 8:00 AM

College of St. Elizabeth, Morristown

Conference and Resource Fair Promotes Advocacy ...

Education Giving Back

Sat, April 28, 8:00 PM

250 Speedwell Ave, Morris

Wendy's Shadow

Arts & Entertainment

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse


MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...

Retro Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo

Retro Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo (Citadel Press, 1970)


How does a reviewer do justice to a book called “the great American novel”? I first read Johnny Got His Gun during the Viet Nam war, when young people, nationwide, were protesting fighting in a war that was a senseless waste of life; a war in which the United States had no business participating.

The Truth About My Reading

The Truth About My Reading

I didn't get my Composition and Literature teacher at Montclair State College at all. A crusty old man with a dour disposition, Mr. Smith always seemed angry and rude. He appropriately intimidated freshmen, even me, an English major, who found this common core course beneath my dignity. Frankly, as a graduate of Highland Park High School, and a survivor of Mrs.