MORRIS COUNTY, N.J. – The Morris County Board of Freeholders last night unanimously passed a resolution condemning the actions of Morris County Sheriff Edward Rochford for restructuring his department via a series of promotions that are not funded in the county’s 2016 budget and which derailed a recently arbitrated labor settlement with a Sheriff’s union just a few months before he leaves office.
Sheriff Edward Rochford’s actions are likely to cause personnel and budget problems for his successor after the Jan. 1, 2017 inauguration of a new sheriff, and leave county taxpayers liable to pay for his financial mismanagement, according to the freeholders.
“The Sheriff is creating an unsettled and divisive situation by making improper promotions that we cannot afford and which will impact the next Sheriff’s administration,’’ said Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo. “We are sending him a message that his actions are totally unacceptable.’’
The Sheriff personally participated in a state public Employees Relations Commission arbitration hearing last week at which he offered no input or objections to a tentative labor settlement that included among other matters that there would be no additional promotions in 2016. However, a day later he produced a new organizational chart with a series of promotions – without adequate funding and clearly in contradiction to the arbitrated settlement — that has jeopardized that settlement with other officers.
The freeholders, via their resolution, put the sheriff on notice that he will be held personally responsible for salary, costs, and expenses related to his actions, and that Morris County would not provide him with legal counsel at taxpayers’ expense should court action arise due to his actions.
The freeholder’s resolution approved the following actions:
- Issuance of a written statement condemning the actions of the Morris County Sheriff Edward Rochford.
- Demand that the Sheriff cease and desist from frivolously spending public funds.
- Inform the Sheriff that the five promotions, subject of the tentative agreement reach on Sept. 8, 2016, will not be processed and request that county’s labor counsel contact the PERC arbitrator to schedule a hearing.
- Inform the Sheriff that a requisition submitted on Sept. 12, 2016 for four additional promotions will not be processed.
- Contact the state Civil Service Commission to request that the Sheriff’s Office no longer have the ability to make changes in the County and Municipal Personnel System (CAMPS).
- Have the CAMPS security officer conduct an audit to ensure that Sheriff’s employees are in the correct and approved Civil Service titles and are being compensated in accordance with the correct titles.
- Inform the Sheriff that all costs resulting from his action to promote any employees in the Sheriff’s Superior Officers Association not authorized by the Freeholder Board shall be his personal financial responsibility, including but not limited to increased salaries and legal expenditures.
- Inform the Sheriff that since he acted outside of his authority and contrary to the tentative grievance arbitration settlement agreement that the County will not indemnify the Sheriff in the event that litigation arises from his actions.
Sheriff Rochford’s term expires at the end of this year and he did not seek re-election. An election to choose his replacement will be held in November.
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