The Professional Standards Bureau (“PSB”) consists of two branches. The prosecution branch is lead by a Deputy Chief Assistant Prosecutor, along with two additional Assistant Prosecutors with one who directs Bias Crime investigations. The Corruption Unit has one separately assigned Assistant Prosecutor entirely dedicated to cases involving public employees and servants.The investigative branch is led by a Captain of Prosecutor’s Detectives who has overall command of the Bureau. A member of the clerical staff oversees all office operations and manages the records system and paralegal functions of the PSB, Corruption Unit and Bias Unit.
The units are multi-tasked. The Professional Standards Bureau has primary responsibility in the investigation and prosecution of all police criminal misconduct in Essex County. The Bureau also conducts activities necessary to improve the administration and delivery of Police Internal Affairs services on a countywide basis. Additionally, it serves as the internal affairs unit of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. The Corruption Unit (a component of the PSB) prosecutes and investigates criminal behavior regarding public servants and public employees.
The PSB, Corruption and Bias Crime Units are “vertical prosecution” units. One unit exclusively handles all law enforcement criminal cases from inception through trial and the other handles all cases regarding public servants and employees from inception through trial. When the PSB or Corruption Unit receives an allegation of criminal conduct committed by a sworn law enforcement officer or public servant, each must determine if a criminal prosecution is warranted. If criminal prosecution is warranted, the appropriate unit presents the case to a Grand Jury. If an indictment is returned, that unit is responsible for the case through a trial or plea agreement. Internal responsibilities for the PSB include, but are not limited to, random drug screening, investigation of violations of rules and regulations, risk analysis management, and integrity testing.
Additionally, PSB serves as the internal affairs unit of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, as well as the county’s Bias Crimes Unit. PSB also monitors police pursuits in Essex County and maintains standards for their use, so as to help limit their danger to the public and yet maintain their use in appropriate circumstances for criminal apprehension. The Bureau provides training at the Essex County Police Academy and also provides individualized training in Internal Affairs at municipal departments.
As part of his ongoing program to improve services to the citizens of Essex County, former Acting Prosecutor Donald C. Campolo made significant improvements in the area of internal affairs investigations. In 2000, he reorganized the chain of command within the Prosecutor’s Office to have the internal affairs unit, then named “Citizens Complaint Bureau,” report directly to him. This very positive change makes possible a more efficient disposition of cases. In May of 2001, the Citizens Complaint Bureau was renamed the “Professional Standards Bureau” and its role was expanded.
In 2016, the PSB received 425 new cases and completed 467 investigations. In addition, 147 investigations remained open from 2015. A total of 296 cases were referred back to the originating agencies for civil or administrative action. Of the open cases, four resulted in criminal charges.
Two noteworthy criminal prosecutions were: An Orange Police Officer pleaded guilty to obstruction on September 16, 2016, for attempting to prevent a citizen from making a complaint against him; and a Corrections Officer pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a weapon and received a State Prison mandatory sentence in early 2017. In both cases, the officers forfeited their right to future public employment.
In addition, the PSB was responsible for training of Essex County Internal Affairs officers in the new Attorney General Law Enforcement Directive regarding firearms discharges. Consistent with the Attorney General directive, published in July, 2015, the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT), consisting of an Assistant Prosecutor and numerous PSB and ECPO investigative personnel respond to the scene of every officer-involved shooting in which someone is injured or killed. CIRT also responds to police pursuits resulting in serious injury. That same Directive requires all State Prosecutors to publish the results of the most critical shooting incidents on their respective websites.
A list of Law Enforcement Determinations and Directives issued by the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General and the Essex County Prosecutor is available on this web site. PDF copies of these files can be opened from this list for viewing, printing or downloading.
Essex County Professional Standards Annual Summary Report: