A fount of institutional knowledge, Kathy (Shively) Rogers is retiring September 30, 2020, from the Morris County Sheriff’s Office after 35 years spent mostly on preserving vital crime scene evidence and turning mild chaos into order.
With great good humor, Kathy even role-played once as a victim of a homicide during a training session for Crime Scene Investigators, many of whom she has retained as friends.
“I always felt that I worked with the best people I ever could. It’s been 35 great years of working with some of the best Officers, detectives and civilian staff,” said Kathy, whose last day at work is September 30.
Kathy, who grew up in Parsippany, started her career as a clerk on September 30, 1985, under the administration of then-Sheriff John M. Fox. Almost immediately, she was assigned to the Office’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI), which has gone through multiple name changes to now being called the Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Section.
Kathy was promoted frequently as a clerk and for the majority of her career had the title of Supervisor of Criminal Information Records. In April 2017, shortly after current Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon was sworn into office, she was selected to work for Bureau of Law Enforcement Undersheriff Mark Spitzer as a confidential assistant on research projects and Civil Service and payroll-related issues.
“Kathy Rogers is a professional who had the knack for working harmoniously with everyone at the Morris County Sheriff’s Office. She demanded perfection and organization but in a sensitive way that taught others how to rise above their mistakes, without causing offense. Her sense of humor, institutional knowledge and caring about the quality of the agency will be greatly missed,” said Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon.
Undersheriff Spitzer agreed that Kathy will be deeply missed upon her retirement.
“From the onset, I have relied on Kathy to reinforce that I was making sound and just decisions, but more importantly, to tell me when I was not!” said Undersheriff Spitzer.
“Kathy is a strong voice, and with the personal confidence she has built throughout her years of service she would always deliver the truth, even if I wasn’t ready to hear it.”
“From the start, she was very concerned for the working conditions of the newest Keyboarding clerk to the experienced Chief; she has always had the protection of the individual employee paramount in her mind,” Undersheriff Spitzer said.
Recognizing Kathy’s talent for teaching others and her ability to visualize how disarray and chaos can be turned into order, one of her earliest responsibilities in BCI was to lead the reorganization of the evidence vault which then was located in the basement of the Morris County courthouse. That major job was performed while she accepted and signed out crime scene evidence to detectives from local police departments and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office.
“We made sure everything was properly boxed and sealed and all paperwork was in order. It was a great project and in the long run, it was organized so that we could find anything quickly. We made sure the integrity of evidence always remained tight so that it couldn’t be questioned,” she said.
Over the decades and as the CSI title was periodically modified, Kathy worked in a tiny building in Morris Township, in the so-called Washington Building in Morristown, which eventually was demolished, and “on the hill” in Parsippany, where a modernized Crime Lab and CSI Section offices now are situated.
Under the 24-year administration of Sheriff Edward V. Rochford, CSI and the Crime Lab were split and then merged back, with Kathy handling the necessary paperwork to effect the re-merger.
Through it all, she supervised and trained civilian staff to properly accept, handle, log and sign out evidence collected from crime scenes.
The role brought her into contact with detectives from around Morris County – including now-Sheriff Gannon when he was a detective for the Prosecutor’s Office. She found the work fascinating and the detectives she met engaging, accepting her and her civilian colleagues as part of a team.
“It was interesting to see how all the agencies worked together. I also learned that even with all the newest techniques, it always comes down to basic good investigative work. Techniques improve but basics don’t really change,” she said.
She and a colleague seized the chance to work closely with the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office in 2003, with a team led by Sheriff Gannon who then was Deputy Chief of Investigations for the Prosecutor’s Office. Kathy worked at the Sheriff’s Office all day and at night assisted the Prosecutor’s Office with maintaining logs and lists of information about the Dec. 1, 2002 murders of two clerks at the Funcoland game shop in Roxbury.
The investigation had temporarily gone cold but before the first anniversary of the killings, three suspects were identified, charged and ultimately convicted. By then, Kathy and other civilian clerks in the CSI Section also were going to crime scenes with detectives to assist with maintaining evidence lists and other tasks.
Working directly in Administration for the past three years strikes her as a fitting finale, a chance to see how all the sections of the Sheriff’s Office meld together.
Friends already are inquiring what she will do next. Kathy said she is stocking up on recipes and plans to cook more for her husband and might work part-time for a friend.
“I like living in the moment. I’m just going to do whatever I want to do,” she said.
Thirty-three Morris County Sheriff’s Officers, Correctional Police Officers and Non-Sworn Staff who either saved lives, completed service in the United States military, toiled through the COVID-19 threat or brought honor to the agency were applauded Friday morning at its annual Medal Day ceremony.
“I have to say it’s my proudest day,” said Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon.
Medal and citation recipients and Command Staff from the Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Law Enforcement and Bureau of Corrections gathered in an outdoor canopy tent at Frelinghuysen Arboretum while other Officers and staff viewed the livestreamed ceremony virtually.
The ceremony recognized Officers and Non-Sworn Staff who, over the past year, acted courageously in an emergency, furthered their
education, honorably served in the military, showed particular initiative, performed admirably through unanticipated COVID-19 challenges, and even brought positive national attention to the Office through victory in the popular A&E Network’s “America’s Top Dog.”
“Everyone in the agency could be cited or awarded a medal multiple times, and I thank you for that,” Sheriff Gannon said.
“Today, we recognize acts by Officers and Staff that go beyond the efforts that all here make to ensure that the agency is always a class act. All the Officers and Non-Sworn staff working for the Bureaus of Law Enforcement and Corrections are true professionals who make me proud to be the Morris County Sheriff,” he said.
The Morris County Sheriff’s Office Joint Honor Guard presented the Colors to start the ceremony. Bureau of Corrections Lieutenant Andrew Bileci and Bureau of Law Enforcement Detective Lieutenant Laura Flynn read the background of the medal and citation recipients from their respective bureaus.
The recipients are Bureau of Corrections Corporal Pete Lenahan, Correctional Police Officers Richard Quinn and Christopher Struble, and Bureau of Law Enforcement Special Law Enforcement Officer II Jeffrey Paul, Sergeant Nicole Leo, Detectives Marc Adamsky and Timothy Palazzolo, and Investigator Philip Masi.
Corporal Pete Lenahan and his partner, Corporal Scott Schraft, were traveling on Route 24 with an inmate in custody when they chanced upon an overturned vehicle on Aug. 14, 2019. They pulled over and Corporal Lenahan approached the overturned vehicle while his partner stayed with the inmate. Corporal Lenahan noticed that a female was partially ejected from the vehicle, and as Morris Township Police Officers arrived, he assisted with checking the vital signs of the entrapped female. Life-saving measures, including CPR, were implemented until State Police and first responders arrived at the scene.
Correctional Police Officers Christopher Struble and Richard Quinn, on March 13, 2020,came upon a serious motor vehicle crash that resulted in a fire with one occupant still inside the vehicle. As a team, they doused the blaze, called for aid, and determined the single occupant was unconscious but breathing. They removed the occupant from the vehicle in case it reignited and safely turned the occupant’s care over to EMTs.
SLEO II Jeffrey Paul, who also serves as Director of the Morris County Office of Emergency Management (OEM), had just left Morristown Medical Center’s Emergency Room on January 28, 2020, and was in his vehicle approaching the Route 287 overpass when he saw a female, later determined to be 16 years old, climbing up the safety fencing in a suspected attempt to jump onto Route 287 below. SLEO II Paul contacted the Morris County Communications Center while simultaneously running from his vehicle to the fence. He pulled the girl from the fence and held on to her until Morristown Police Officers arrived. SLEO II Paul refused to release the girl until she was safely transported, and admitted to Morristown Medical Center.
Detective Marc Adamsky, as a K-9 Officer, responded on July 31, 2020, at 3 a.m. to Roxbury to assist with a hit-and-run motor vehicle investigation. Police had located a heavily-damaged Jeep Gladiator in an entrance lane to Route 80. The airbag had been deployed, blood was present and no driver was on scene. Detective Adamsky and K-9 Tim scouted the area, with K-9 Tim displaying an alert to airborne human odor in the vicinity. The K-9 partners followed the scent to bushes in a wooded area, where Detective Adamsky observed the driver lying in the bushes along a fence. The driver, who suffered a head injury, was transported from the scene.
Sergeant Nicole Leo was on patrol in the area of Morris County Central Park in Parsippany on August 3, 2020, when she responded to a radio call for medical assistance. She was alerted by a witness that an individual was on a path and not breathing. Sergeant Leo covered 200 yards to find the person and performed life-saving CPR until EMS and paramedics arrived to take over medical aid.
Detective Tim Palazzolo and Investigator Phil Masi on June 29, 2020, were assigned to the Marine Division of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office and undergoing training with the New Jersey State Police Marine Unit when they received a radio call that a small sailboat had capsized off of Bertrand’s Island in a main part of Lake Hopatcong and four individuals were in the water. Detective Palazzolo and Investigator Masi collectively located two adults and two young boys in the water, all wearing their personal flotation devices but at risk for drowning or being struck by a passing vessel. The capsized vessel was towed to shore after the individuals were safely removed from the water and placed on State Police boats.
EXCEPTIONAL DUTY MEDAL:
The recipients are Correctional Police Officer Ronnie Joseph, Correctional Police Officer and K-9 Section Detective John Granato and Sheriff’s Office Detective Corporal Michael McMahon, who was twice recognized for exceptional duty.
Officer Ronnie Joseph recently retired from the United States National Guard after more than 20 years of service during which he achieved the highest enlisted rank of Sergeant Major. His tours of duty included numerous overseas missions and in areas of conflict, for which he was awarded multiple citations and awards for outstanding duty.
Detective John Granato and his K-9 partner Spike participated on November 2, 2019, in the Union County K-9 Competition that featured teams from surrounding counties that all voluntarily participated to test their K-9 skills against the other. Detective Granato brought public acclaim to himself and the Sheriff’s Office through an outstanding performance that was recognized by achieving high honors at the competition.
Detective Corporal Mike McMahon achieved a highly credible accomplishment and brought acclaim to the Sheriff’s Office by participating with K-9 Kaiser in the TV reality series “America’s Top Dog” in the summer of 2019. Team Kai won the series, which was revealed on March 18, 2020, and broke several time records in the process.
Detective Corporal Mike McMahon received a second Exceptional Duty award after participating on November 3, 2019, with K-9 Kaiser in the Protection Sports Association (PSA) National K-9 Trial in Sewell, N.J. The trial featured 14 K-9 teams from across the country that displayed their skills in the areas of obedience and apprehension. Team Kai was awarded 4th place overall, with a final score of 91.5, along with acknowledgment of high honors.
HONORABLE SERVICE MEDAL:
The recipients of the Honorable Service Medal are Bureau of Law Enforcement Detectives Marc Adamsky and Edward Zienowicz and Civilian Dody Blank.
Detective Marc Adamsky and K-9 Tim assisted Boonton Township Police on August 3, 2020, with a burglary investigation that involved the homeowner seeing footage on her security system that showed a suspect breaking into the home. The team attempted for a lengthy period of time to locate a trail of human scent and ultimately did, with K-9 Tim displaying a positive alert at a residence where the suspect was discovered.
Detective Edward Zienowicz has proven invaluable to the Warrants Section of the Bureau of Law Enforcement. He brought unique insight to the section through assignments with other agencies that have led to him assisting with the creation and revision of section forms that reduce Officer liability and increased compliance with the most current legal updates. He introduced new systems to enhance detectives’ ability to investigate and track subjects, and initiated an audit of older warrants that led to greater efficiencies in the section.
Chief Clerk Dody Blank always made herself available to assist the Office and Legal Services Section during Morris County’s COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. She took on risk to herself to help move forward any clerical duties required of the Office civilian staff and she was voluntarily assigned as a scribe at the County College of Morris COVID-19 test site throughout its operation.
EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT MEDAL (Bachelor’s Degree):
Bureau of Law Enforcement Officer Will Diaz earned two Bachelor’s Degrees, in criminology and sociology, from William Paterson University.
NATIONAL DEFENSE SERVICE MEDAL:
Bureau of Law Enforcement Detective Christopher Murarik served honorably on active duty in the United States military during a designated time period during a time of war or conflict. In 2019, he was deployed to Qatar in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (Spartan Shield).
TITLE OF K-9 TRAINER:
Bureau of Law Enforcement K-9 Section Detective Michael Carbone was awarded the titles of Patrol K-9 Trainer and Specialty K-9 Trainer. He satisfied the K-9 Training Standards and Qualification Requirements for New Jersey Law Enforcement,” and is qualified to conduct basic and in-service training for police handler-police dog teams.
SHERIFF’S ACHIEVEMENT AWARD:
Bureau of Law Enforcement Confidential Assistant Kathy (Shively)Rogers will retire September 30, 2020, after 35 years of honorable and distinguished service to the agency, primarily in the Crime Scene Investigation Section.
UNIT CITATION AWARD:
Bureau of Corrections Captain Steven Piatti, Captain Joseph Fucci, Lieutenant Jay Milos, Lieutenant Thomas Markey, Sergeant Shawn Johnston, Corporal Peter Lohmus, and Correctional Police OfficerSteven Goodman received a unit citation for their outstanding service in managing and mitigating the spread of COVID-19 at the Morris County Correctional Facility. In March 2020, the facility was forced to change the way it operated to ensure the safety of staff and inmates. Changes included lockdowns of the facility, suspension of visitors, remote court proceedings, purchase and issuance of personal protective equipment, enhancement of sanitation throughout the facility and purchase of additional cleaning supplies.
UNIT CITATION AWARD:
Correctional Police Officer Jillian Schweizer and Correctional Police Lieutenant SeanLomax eased anxiety on fellow Officers through hard work and diligence in seeing that employees were compensated in a timely manner with hazard pay for working during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hazard pay was approved through a memorandum of agreement between the Morris County Board of Freeholders and the Sheriff.
CIVILIAN SERVICE AWARD:
Bureau of Corrections Maintenance Employee Ernest Stiner is an integral part of a dynamic team of employees in the maintenance department. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Stiner assumed the responsibility of being on-call around the clock. Whenever a maintenance issue came to light during the unprecedented time, he never hesitated to report to work and complete tasks in a thorough, timely and professional manner.
CITIZEN’S SERVICE MEDAL:
Bureau of Law Enforcement Clerk 1 Joseph Chandra, Keyboarding Clerk 2 Christie Grapsas, Keyboarding Clerk 2 Shannon Rice, Keyboarding Clerk 2 Lori Snead, Keyboarding Clerk 3 Danielle Bonfantiand Keyboarding Clerk 4 Bhavna Patel earned the Citizen’s Service Medal for providing services that were beneficial to the Sheriff’s Office, the Morris County Office of Emergency Management, and the County of Morris, during the 2020 COVID-19-related operations. They assisted with scribing at the COVID-19 swabbing site, maintained information and tracked man-hours associated with the project while attending to normally-scheduled duties.
Guys and ghouls who love decorating homes for Halloween in spine-chilling styles can help the Florham Park-based charity Halos for Angels by conjuring up a macabre scene and potentially win a day at the Morris County Sheriff’s Office.
Halos for Angels – which was founded in 2010 by Karen Casolaro after her Florham Park neighbors and friends rallied in support when she was diagnosed with breast cancer – is a non-profit organization held dear by the Morris County Sheriff’s Office. Halos for Angels provides financial support for families that are affected by an unexpected crisis or tragedy.
Because of COVID-19, Halos for Angels this year has reinvented its annual “Fright Factor” Haunted House fundraiser to allow for broad community involvement and the chance for decorators to showcase their skills at spooking others.
This year’s fundraiser is the “Frightful Home Decorating Contest.” Participants pay a $50 fee, which is used to support Halos for Angels’ mission of helping families in need due to a sudden crisis.
Participants decorate the front of their homes, take one vivid photo and submit it by midnight on October 17 to the HalosForAngels.org website so that friends, family and admirers of the home’s fright factor can vote as often as they like up until midnight on October 28.
Once the first, second and third place winners are announced by midnight on October 31, those winners will receive a portion of the entry fee proceeds. The top vote-getter will win a day with the Morris County Sheriff’s Office.
To enter the contest, visit https://www.halosforangels.org/. Click on the Events tab and then on Fright Factor. Fill out the sign-up form and submit the $50 entry fee through PayPal. Voters also visit the website but do not pay any fee to vote as often as they like. Additional contest details are posted on the website.
Morris County Sheriff’s Officers, particularly those from the Bureau of Corrections, have supported Halos For Angels for years by collecting Christmas gifts and funds to be distributed to families in need. Many Officers role-played in the past at the annual Haunted House fundraiser by posing as creepy clowns, the Texas chainsaw killer, witches, zombies and demons.
In December 2019, both Bureaus of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office donated $4,500 to a Halos For Angels client, a single mother who was recovering from breast cancer.
“We appreciate how the Morris County Sheriff’s Office has opened its heart to Halos For Angels in such a way that we are able to keep helping neighbors in crisis, including some deeply hurt by COVID-19,” Mrs. Casolaro said.
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon said that supporting the organization has delighted the Agency by allowing it to prove its empathy for others in crisis.
“Halos For Angels represents the true spirit of what a community can and should have. We’re all in this life together and if we can help ease a burden, we will,” Sheriff Gannon said.