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Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office employees could face discipline over ‘reprehensible’ social media posts


Employees of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office could face discipline in the wake of an investigation by an outside law firm into employees’ offensive social media posts.

In response to an inquiry from The Jersey Journal, HCPO spokeswoman Jen Morrill said in an emailed statement that the now-complete investigation found no “harassment or discrimination,” but that “appropriate disciplinary action is pending” for an unspecified number of employees.

The agency is also “reviewing existing social media policies to confirm they are as strong as they can be,” Morrill said. “It is our understanding that the county will be providing training to employees.”

A county spokesman did not respond to a request for comment, and Morrill declined to make Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez available for an interview.

It’s not clear exactly when the probe was launched. But in March, the agency said that it was investigating two employees, Assistant Prosecutor Bill Specht and Agent Kelly Sisk, over “offensive and sickening” posts the two had allegedly made on social media and in workplace messaging app Slack.

Screenshots published by local news website Real Garden State showed racist comments posted on Facebook and Slack, apparently from HCPO employees, some of which were posted after the police killing of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake, according to a county source. The Jersey Journal could not confirm the authenticity of those screenshots.

“As soon as this complaint regarding these reprehensible comments was brought to our attention, it was immediately forwarded to the county’s Departments of Law and Personnel for a full investigation,” Morrill said. “As previously stated, the comments on social media were offensive and sickening and have no place in our society or the workplace.”

The probe also examined employees’ use of Slack, which is “strictly prohibited,” according to the spokeswoman.

A county source said the probe was conducted by Cleary, Giacobbe, Alfieri, & Jacobs. An attorney at the firm could not immediately be reached for comment.

During the investigation, Specht’s “supervisory or prosecutorial authority” was removed, Morrill said at the time. Another employee, clerk Debra Collins, received a three-day suspension for making offensive comments online and to a colleague.

Morrill did not respond to questions asking how many employees could be disciplined, or what that discipline might look like, although she said that any punishment would occur “in consultation with the county Law Department.”

Neither Sisk nor Specht could immediately be reached for comment.



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