Corrections officers are out of control, Sheriff needs to resist their attempts.
Clark Fredericks is one of a number of victims who claims being sexually abused by a corrections officer named Dennis Pegg. Fredericks said Pegg "sexually assaulted" and "raped" him from the time he was 8 years old until he was 12. According to the testimony of his victims, Pegg threatened the boys if they didn’t do what he told them to do and claimed that he was "untouchable" as a corrections officer at the Sussex County Jail.
Some things have changed since then. Sussex County has a new Sheriff and there are more safeguards and procedures in place to prevent such criminal behavior. The new Sheriff is on a mission to reduce the force at the jail, cut costs, and pass those savings on to the county’s property taxpayers.
With the recently enacted bail reform legislation, there is less need for a large facility like the one that currently exists, so the Sheriff has taken on the task of consolidating operations with neighboring Morris County. All this will save millions for property taxpayers. It’s already saved nearly $2 million.
But there’s a problem in all this… some corrections officers still think they’re “untouchable” or at least they think they should be.
At a recent Freeholder Board meeting they complained that they should come first, before the property taxpayers who pay their salaries. They complained about time being added on to their commute to work. They complained because the cost-saving change would disrupt their routine.
They would rather see Sussex County property taxpayers foot the bill and continue to fully staff a facility that is only partly used. Some have even suggested that the Freeholder Board raise property taxes by as much as $400 a year per household to refurbish the Jail.
Corrections officers already have it pretty good. After twenty years, they get to retire and start collecting their pension and benefits immediately. Since 1999, this has been one of the most generous retirement packages in America. They claim their job is tough – but is it as tough as the job done by, say, the military?
Let’s say a corrections officer retires after 20 years. Now let’s look at an actual case of an officer who retired after 20 years. His final salary was $148,996 and his retirement pension is based on 50% of his highest three years. In his case, that is $7,464 a month. And he gets a full medical and benefits package – although he probably won’t need it, because he is still in his early 40’s.
Now let’s compare that with the military. And forget about enlisted ranks, let’s compare what that corrections officer gets to what a military officer gets. A retired active-duty Captain (O-3) in the United States Army will receive just $3,458 monthly – and get that great VA health care too! And when his bosses send him somewhere… it won’t be to Morris County. It will be to one of the world’s garden spots… like Afghanistan.
But it get’s worse… much, much worse.
Not content with having a Sheriff and Freeholder Board pledged to finding jobs for every corrections officer who may become displaced, they decided to start making threats – the way people who think they are “untouchable” do. First, they threatened the Sheriff and said they would run someone against him in the GOP primary. Their union having endorsed Democrat Phil Murphy for Governor in 2017, they made alliances with the pro-Sanctuary State wing of that party. Then they tried to shake down the Republican Party itself with threats. Now they have posted a video that claims to have caught the Sheriff in a #MeToo situation.
Except that it doesn’t.
Women initiate #MeToo complaints, not voyeuristic corrections officers who show up at events to video women without their consent and then try to use it for the purposes of blackmailing their bosses. When men with badges and guns engage in such behavior, sneaking around and filming every innocent exchange between a man and a woman, we need to think about why they were given badges and guns in the first place.
Enough is enough. It is time to let some people know that they are not “untouchable” and that the property taxpayers of Sussex County come first. They are not going to bully or blackmail their way into making the Freeholders raise property taxes, just so they don’t have a commute.