I was driving home from a legal seminar in Northern Virginia today when I received and E-Mail message from Sergeant Steve Brzdek, President of The New Jersey Law Enforcement Supervisors Association, the collective bargaining unit that represents all New Jersey State Supervisory Law Enforcement Personnel. The E-mail informed me that a Federal Corrections Officer was brutally murdered by two inmates at the Atwater US Penitentiary located in Merced County, California. A statement from the prison said Corrections Officer Jose Rivera, 22, of Chowchilla, California was stabbed to death by two inmates with "homemade weapons" in a housing unit. The complete news article can be found in the Merced Sun Star

Undoubtedly speaking on behalf of all law enforcement personnel and public safety officers within the state of New Jersey, our thoughts and prayers go out to Jose Rivera and his family.

Anytime a member of the law enforcement community is taken from us during a tour of duty we must pause to reflect on this tragic loss of life, and ask ourselves, what can we do better within the law enforcement community to prevent this from happening in the future? Institutional security policies in penal institutions are always being reviewed, revamped, and retooled. This is especially true in light of inmates now obtaining illegal access to mobile telecommunication technology that turns an already dangerous prison into a workplace that can be booby trapped and filled with ambushes.

I have represented New Jersey Corrections Officers for many years in New Jersey Workers Compensation Court. Anyone familiar with the profession understands and is aware that these men and women are routinely injured during physical struggles and assaults perpetrated by inmates I have helped Corrections Officers suffering from  orthopedic injuries normally reserved for football players. I have also seen these brave men and women suffer from post traumatic stress syndrome similar to many of our soldiers and Marines coming home from the battles raging in Iraq and Afghanistan. Corrections Officers are also often inflicted with MRSA and Staff Infections, and exposed to blood with the HIV Virus and Hepatitis. In my opinion, there is no position of employment in America that is more dangerous than that of a Corrections Officer.

With that being said, I will devote my next several blog posts to explaining the New Jersey Workers Compensation System. The system within the state of New Jersey that has been established to assist and compensate the injured worker. The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development describes the Workers Compensation system as a “no fault” insurance program that provides the following benefits to employees who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses:

  • Medical Benefits
  • Temporary Total Benefits
  •  Permanent Partial Benefits
  •  Permanent Total Benefits; and
  • Death Benefits to dependants of workers who have died as a result of   their employment.

However explanation of these benefits is for another day and another time. Tonight, we should remember and pray for Corrections Officer Jose Rivera and his family. We should also humbly say thank you to all of the men and women who risk their lives every day to protect the public safety.




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Photo of Frank M. Crivelli Frank M. Crivelli

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state…

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state, county and local law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMS workers.

Mr. Crivelli specializes his individual practice in collective negotiations.  Over the past twenty (20) years, Mr. Crivelli has negotiated well over one hundred (100) collective bargaining agreements for various state, county, municipal and private organizations and has resolved over thirty-five (35) labor agreements that have reached impasse through compulsory interest arbitration.  Mr. Crivelli routinely litigates matters in front of the New Jersey State Public Employment Relations Commission, the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law, third party neutrals for mediation, grievance and interest arbitration, the Superior Court of New Jersey and the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Mr. Crivelli founded and created the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog (www.njpublicsafetyofficers.com) approximately fifteen (15) years ago where he and members of his firm routinely publish blog posts regarding legal issues related to the employment of New Jersey Public Safety Officers.  The blog now contains over six hundred (600) articles and is reviewed and relied upon by thousands of public employees.  Mr. Crivelli has also published books and manuals pertaining to New Jersey Public Employee Disability Pension Appeals and the New Jersey Worker’s Compensation System. Currently, he is drafting a publication on how to Prepare and Negotiate a Collective Bargaining Agreement.  He lectures annually at the New Jersey State PBA Collective Bargaining Seminar, the National Association of Police Organization’s Legal Seminar, the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission Seminar on Public Employment Labor Law, the United States Marine Corps’ Commander’s Media Training Symposium and to Union Executive Boards and General Membership bodies on various labor related topics.

Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Crivelli joined the United States Marine Corps where he served as a Judge Advocate with the Legal Services Support Section of the First Force Services Support Group in Camp Pendleton, California.  While serving in the Marine Corps, Mr. Crivelli defended and prosecuted hundreds of Special and General Court Martial cases and administrative separation matters.  In addition to his trial duties, Mr. Crivelli was also charged with the responsibility of training various Marine and Naval combat command elements on the interpretation and implementation of the rules of engagement for various military conflicts that were ongoing throughout the world at that time. After leaving active duty, Mr. Crivelli remained in the Marine Corps Reserves where he was promoted to the rank of Major before leaving the service.

For the past fifteen (15) years, Mr. Crivelli has been certified as a Civil Trial Attorney by the Supreme Court for the State of New Jersey, a certification which less than two percent (2%) of the attorneys in New Jersey have achieved.  He is a graduate of Washington College (B.A.), the City University of New York School of Law (J.D.), the United States Naval Justice School, and the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation.