IN THE MATTER OF ALFRED SMALLS, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued April 8, 2013.
On appeal from Civil Service Commission, Docket No. 2012-1425.
Joseph M. Wenzel argued the cause for appellant Alfred Smalls.
Peter H. Jenkins, Deputy Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent Department of Corrections (Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney; Lewis A. Scheindlin, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Mr. Jenkins, on the brief).
Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney for Civil Service Commission (Todd Wigder, Deputy Attorney General, joins in the brief of respondent Department of Corrections).
Before Judges Espinosa and Guadagno.
Alfred Smalls, a former Senior Corrections Officer at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women (Edna Mahan), appeals from the final decision of the Civil Service Commission to terminate his employment. We affirm.
Smalls was employed by the Department of Corrections (DOC or the Department) in 2005 and was transferred to Edna Mahan in July 2007. During the course of an investigation by DOC into a separate matter in 2010, an inmate reported that Smalls was engaged in a sexual relationship with an inmate, C.B. Smalls denied any impropriety. Smalls was served with a Preliminary Notice of Disciplinary Action on November 23, 2010, and, after a departmental hearing, a Final Notice of Disciplinary Action was issued, removing him effective December 30, 2010. Smalls appealed and the matter was transferred to the Office of Administrative Law.
The charges against Smalls were conduct unbecoming a public employee, N.J.A.C. 4A:2-2.3(a)(6), and other sufficient cause, N.J.A.C. 4A:2-2.3(a)(11),  namely, the violation of the Department's policies on inmate familiarity. During the course of two days of hearings, Laura Sanders, Acting Director and Chief Administrative Law Judge (the ALJ), heard testimony from C.B., Smalls, and Captain Allen Tompkins, who was in charge of the maximum security compound at Edna Mahan and all employee disciplinary hearings.
Tompkins described the concept of "undue familiarity" within a correctional facility as follows:
Undue familiarity is not to become undue [sic] familiar with an inmate, their parolees or their families. You're not supposed to give them any special favors. Give them any items or accept any items that are not approved by the facility or the Department of Corrections. You're not supposed to contact them off duty hours or really discuss anything with them or their families of a personal nature. It's supposed to be work related.
Tompkins explained that such preferential treatment could create a security issue because the inmate could use such treatment as leverage to get the officer to bring in drugs or weapons by threatening to expose the preferential treatment. In addition, this conduct can be ...