There’s little love lost between Sussex County’s sheriff candidates.
Incumbent Sheriff Mike Strada faces a challenge from corrections officer Andy Boden, who suspended earlier this year after a police psychologist ruled he was unfit for duty.
Following his suspension, Boden has mounted an offensive against the three-term sheriff, accusing him of endangering his deputies and misusing public funds.
“My decision to run is to end the culture of harassment and mental abuse that Strada has created and fostered. His actions, along with his posse’s, will come out in the upcoming weeks,” Boden said. “One simple example is how his friend disassembled someone’s gun and left it in a pile. No internal affairs investigation was done nor was his buddy reprimanded. It’s tough to ignore a culture of turning law enforcement into a political arena, and it’s a shame that Strada doesn’t understand law enforcement.”
Boden has been suspended since early March. The New Jersey Herald first reported his suspension.
In testimony provided to the New Jersey Globe by Strada’s campaign, a police psychologist said he or she could not rule out the possibility of Boden harming someone if he was allowed to continue working while receiving therapy.
The psychologist recommended the corrections officer receive additional treatment to restore fitness for duty.
“Lt. Boden was to engage in individual treatment outside of the treatment that he had already been receiving with his wife with the sole purpose on managing his stress level, identifying coping mechanisms that work for him so that he could return to his position,” the psychologist said.
Strada’s camp claims Boden is disgruntled over the suspension and a shared services agreement between Sussex and Morris Counties that would see many of the former county’s corrections officers reassigned.
The sheriff said Boden and other corrections officers are angry over an increase in their commute following reassignment.
“Having secured employment for all who want it, Sheriff Strada does not feel that property taxpayers should absorb increases and debt to refurbish an outdated facility whose purpose has been seriously compromised in this post-bail reform environment,” Strada consultant Kelly Ann Hart said in a statement.
Boden has attacked Strada over a number of incidents that took place under the Sheriff’s tenure, including one involving an undersheriff using a county-owned generator at his home and another in which corrections officers were forced to buy gloves from a vending machine.
The undersheriff resigned over the incident, and Strada said he was not aware corrections officers were being forced to buy gloves.
The sheriff said he stopped sale of the gloves immediately after he found out about the practice.
“Whether it is Strada’s right hand man using a county owned generator, or forcing correction officers to buy gloves from a vending machine, there comes a time where enough is enough and he should realize he isn’t the guy for the job.” Boden said. “Officers are forced to share expired bullet resistant vests, and guns that are not properly kept. Vests are to be individually fitted for each person and he has created unsanitary work conditions while jeopardizing lives.”
Primary day is June 4.