On October 23, 2006, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office unveiled its new state of the art 2.5 million dollar Crime Scene Unit facility. The facility consists of a 15,000 square foot building designed to enhance the collection, processing and packaging of forensic evidence in Essex County. The facility includes a vehicle processing room equipped with a hydraulic lift which allows the Crime Scene Detectives to examine vehicles from all angles; a forensic processing room designed to better enable a Detective to locate and identify fingerprints on various types of evidence; a drying chamber room designed for the processing and packaging of blood soaked clothing; a digital photography room, as well as a new large evidence storage room capable of handling more than 50 times the amount of evidence which could be stored at the previous facility.
The Crime Scene Unit now enables the Detective staff to access the Internet via a high speed computer system thus allowing for instant communications with all law enforcement agencies. The computer system also features a 3-D animated Crime Scene Sketch and Reconstruction software to which allows the Detectives the ability to visually reconstruct a crime scene. Also, the Unit utilizes three fully stocked field vehicles for processing evidence at any crime scene. These vehicles are equipped with portable lighting systems, and alternate light sources which enable the Detectives to view bodily fluids, hairs, fibers and latent fingerprints invisible to the human eye under natural light.
In 2011, the Unit handled 615 cases and processed 202 crime scenes including 129 homicide scenes. The Unit processed a total of 7,794 items of evidence, including 207 firearms. ECPO Crime Scene detectives processed 251 vehicles and also submitted 114 fingerprint samples into the AFIS national database.
In December 2010, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office formed a Cyber Crimes Unit to investigate child pornography, computer fraud and the use of the Internet and other technology in crimes. This unit is staffed by an Assistant Prosecutor, a Lieutenant of Detectives, and several Detectives. The Unit works with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, and provides a valuable local resource given that many local police departments don’t have the facilities and expertise to thoroughly investigate computer related matters.
Whether dealing with homicides, rapes, domestic violence, drug cases, online predators, child pornography or cyber stalking, technology is often the key to effective crime fighting in the 21st century. The Cyber Crimes Unit solves traditional crimes using computer forensics. The unit also educates members of the community on cyber bullying. Once limited to name-calling, today’s bullying has morphed into cyber space and often involves much more complicated issues.
In 2012, the Cyber Crimes Unit expanded its mission to include assisting the Megan’s Law Unit in obtaining necessary evidence that registered sexual offenders were utilizing the Internet and social media in violation of the terms of their Community or Parole Supervision for Life. The Cyber Crimes Unit’s forensic abilities continued to grow as it secured additional forensic devices and software. As a direct result of additional resources, the CCU has enhanced its ability to conduct in-house examinations.
In 2014, the CCU continued its investigations into the sexual exploitation of children through the transmission of images and videos of depicting the sexual abuse and/or exploitation of children, and other technology-facilitated crimes. In its technical support role, the unit received approximately 215 requests for examinations of cellular telephones, and approximately 60 requests for the examination of computers and other digital storage devices.
Also in 2014, the CCU had several notable cases, including:
State v. Darryl Hood – The defendant, a registered sex offender and resident of Newark, was convicted of possessing images and videos depicting the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.
State v. Robert Klemt – The defendant, a resident of Nutley, possessed hundreds of images and videos depicting the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. He was convicted and sentenced to State Prison for using peer-to-peer software to distribute such images and videos.
State v. Evan George – The defendant, a resident of Essex Fells possessed thousands of images and videos depicting the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. He was convicted and sentenced to State Prison for using peer-to-peer software to distribute such images and videos.
State v. Christopher Santo – The defendant, a resident of Mendham, was convicted of Endangering the Welfare of a Child for engaging in sexually explicit conversations with a juvenile female and possessing images depicting the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.
In re: J.R. – A 15-year-old male was adjudicated delinquent on charges of computer criminal activity for unlawfully accessing his school’s computer system and changing grades and attendance records.
In re: W.G.A. – A 15-year-old male was adjudicated delinquent on charges of invasion of privacy for distributing a nude image of a juvenile female without her consent.