DiVincenzo says joint task force will investigate Essex jail’s operations, policies

A joint initiative with the Essex County Correctional Facility Civilian Task Force to review operating procedures at the Essex County Correctional Facility was announced Monday, Dec. 6, in response to recent incidents involving inmate altercations at the Essex County Correctional Facility, County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. said.

The review will be undertaken by the Ambrose Group LLC, an independent management consulting organization led by retired Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose, with the civilian board.

DiVincenzo Observer file photo

“We have worked hard to earn accreditation from the ACA and provide a safe and secure environment at our correctional facility. We want to ensure that our policies and procedures are focused to allow us to operate our jail efficiently and safely,” DiVincenzo said. “We need a fresh set of eyes to review our policies and standards. In conjunction with Commissioner President Wayne Richardson, Penal Committee Chairman Commissioner Rufus Johnson and the Civilian Task Force, we are bringing in the Ambrose Group to review our procedures to make sure we continue to operate the correctional facility in a safe and effective manner.”

The Ambrose Group will conduct a comprehensive assessment of all correctional facility operations. It will review security, staffing roles and responsibilities of all employees from the time inmates enter the facility at intake to the time they are released.

The group will also review all polices and whether they’re being adhered to.

Labor unions and inmate groups will be interviewed as part of the assessment.

“The role of the Civilian Task Force is to advocate for the inmates at the correctional facility and ensure they are being held in a safe environment. I am pleased to work with Essex County and the Ambrose Group on this proactive initiative to get an independent review of the facilities’ policies and standards,” James McGreevey, former New Jersey governor and chairman of the Civilian Task Force, said.

The professionals who will be conducting the assessment include, but are not limited to Ambrose; Rick Fuentes, former New Jersey State Police superintendent; Gregory Ehire, former special agent in charge of the FBI for New Jersey; Darnell Henry, former chief of the Newark Police Division; Gary Lanigan, former commissioner of the NJ State Department of Corrections and others.

“The Ambrose Group consists of professionals who have spent their lifetimes in public safety and law enforcement. We thank the county executive and the Civilian Task Force for giving us this opportunity to give a fresh look at the policies, procedures and operations of the correctional facility,” Ambrose said.

Ambrose created the group. He retired as Newark Public Safety Director in March and has more than 35 years of public safety experience, rising through the ranks of the Newark Police Department to become chief and then public safety director. He also spent time as chief of detectives for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and worked for the Essex County Sheriff’s Office.

DiVincenzo said his administration and the ECCF officers and staff are fully cooperating with investigations by the NJ Attorney General’s Office and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office into two inmate altercations that recently occurred at the ECCF.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.