Newton, NJ - Sussex County jail correction staff report that the jail stopped providing them with gloves to use while they were working, in violation of state law. The situation then got even more bizarre, as gloves were packaged for sale in a vending machine in the jail lobby two weeks later.
Photos of the vending machine started going viral on police Facebook pages, prompting many to point out that New Jersey law specifically requires employers to provide personal protective equipment for employees.
Sheriff Michael Strada said that the gloves were placed in the vending machine for "personal use" not for work use. The gloves were priced at $1 for two pairs, even though normal retails price for two pairs of nitrile gloves is about $0.15. The vending machine was also in the jail lobby where corrections staff are not allowed to go while on duty.
"The warden was trying to get in better control of the inventory of gloves we have in the jail," Strada told NJ Herald. "These gloves were in this machine so if someone wanted them for personal use they could buy them to use. No one was denied gloves to do their job."
Sheriff Stranda's story is different than what our law enforcement sources in Sussex County tell us. Corrections staff have reported that they had access to gloves taken away weeks ago, forcing them to purchase their own.
"No one made a single report to a shift commander or supervisor that they were in need of gloves," Strada said. "It's hard to believe (officers were without gloves for two weeks) that no one filed a report."
When your boss tells you that they are cutting off access to gloves, you don't go to your boss to complain. The corrections staff did actually report this absurdity to the local Police Benevolent Association.
Sheriff Strada has said that the vending machine has now been removed.
New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Colligan responded to the news by saying, "That's a good first step, now hold whomever made this incredibly stupid mistake accountable."