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Community Justice Programs

The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office takes a proactive approach to crime prevention. In doing so, we have created the Community Justice Unit. This Unit is dedicated to creating and putting forth programs aimed to provide children and adolescents with positive alternatives and interventional strategies aimed at preventing delinquency. The Community Justice Unit engages the entire Essex County community by serving as a liaison between law enforcement and residents. The Unit promotes awareness about the role and functions of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.

2021 SUMMER YOUTH INTERNSHIP PROGRAM

The ECPO Community Justice Unit is offering a virtual summer internship program for 2021, to run in two sessions. These sessions will run Monday thru Friday from 9am to 11am. The first session begins July 6 and ends on July 23, 2021. The second session begins July 26 and runs through August 13, 2021. The program is open to a limited number of high school students who reside in Essex County and who will complete their junior year in June 2021.

During this interactive three-week internship program, students will be exposed to a comprehensive curriculum that includes: learning about the role and function of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office; participating in workshops that focus on making positive choices, Internet safety, gang awareness and substance abuse prevention. Throughout the summer internship program, interns will be exposed to various careers in law, law enforcement and government. For more information on eligibility and how students will be selected, please read the explanatory cover letter for the program.

If interested, please download and complete the application packet and return it no later than March 10, 2021 to Mrs. Nicole Graves-Watson, Community Justice Coordinator, Office of the Essex County Prosecutor, 50 West Market Street, Third Floor, Newark, New Jersey 07102. Recommendation letters must be included with your application. Incomplete and faxed applications will not be considered. If you require additional you can feel free to contact Mrs. Watson at (973) 621-4317 or via email at nicole.graves@njecpo.org. Please note that this application and/or program may be subject to change.

Community Visibility

The Community Justice Unit wants to hear the issues that plague residents of Essex County. Armed with the assistance of local law enforcement agencies and non profit groups, the Unit addresses the needs of Essex County residents. Representatives from the Unit attend block association meetings and community forums to address issues of crime. The Unit partners with community members throughout Essex County in an effort to shed light on the positive side of law enforcement.

Children & Adolescent Programs

The Community Justice Unit sponsors youth symposiums that address critical issues pertinent to young people; thus working to reduce risk factors of delinquency. Nearly five hundred middle and high school students from Essex County attend the full day conferences, which feature interactive workshops on making positive choices, the dangers of drugs and gangs along with ways to be safe while surfing the “Net”. Elementary school students learn about various careers in law, government and medicine through the Community Justice Unit’s “Project I C.A.N.” (I Can Achieve Now) program. Also, since 2000, the Community Justice Unit has conducted a unique five week Summer Intern Program to introduce rising high school seniors to various careers in law, law enforcement and local government. Please see above regarding the 2021 program.

Speaker’s Bureau

Members from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office provide workshops on a range of topics for schools and local organizations. Workshops on bullying, child abuse, domestic violence, gang awareness, Internet safety, juvenile justice, victimization and an overview of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office are provided by experts in their field.

2019 Community Justice Unit Highlights

The Community Justice Unit promotes awareness of the role and function of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. By attending community meetings to address issues related to crime, substance abuse and crime prevention, the Unit serves as a liaison between law enforcement and the residents of Essex County. The Unit is dedicated to creating and executing programs aimed at offering children and teens positive alternatives and interventional strategies aimed at preventing delinquency.

The Community Justice Unit provided workshops to over 5,000 Essex County residents in 2019!

Workshop topics included:

  • Bullying
  • Careers in the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Criminal Justice System
  • Expungements
  • Gang Awareness
  • Internet Safety
  • Overview of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Sexual Assault Prevention

  • The year 2019 was the 18th consecutive year in which ECPO held a 5-week summer internship program to expose high school students to careers in law, law enforcement and government. The Summer Youth Internship Program ran from July 5th through August 3rd. Thirty high school juniors from Essex County participated in this unique program where they toured local and federal law enforcement agencies, participated in a mock trial, learned about local and state government, attended Trooper Youth Week with the New Jersey State Police and participated in cultural trips
  • Held a community meeting to address the opioid crisis on August 15th at the Glen Ridge Congregational Church, 195 Ridgewood Avenue (enter on Clark Street), Glen Ridge NJ. Representatives from, the County of Essex, RWJ Barnabas Health, the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Prevention Team of Essex, Governor’s Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, and Integrity House participated in the meeting
  • Partnered with ADAPT (Alcohol & Drug Abuse Prevention Team of Essex County ) and Essex County’s Department of Health Services on October 11 to provide a half day information session on substance abuse resources to clergy members. The half-day session was held at Life Christian Church in West Orange.
  • Partnered with the Irvington Neighborhood Improvement Association on June 18th to provide a forum on substance abuse treatment services in Essex County. Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens, II, discussed Operation Helping Hand, a diversionary program for drug addicts. Representatives from Saint Barnabas Medical Center, Essex County’s Department of Community Health Services and the Alcohol, Drug Abuse Prevention Team of Essex County discussed substance abuse services.
  • Held a youth conference entitled: “What’s it All About?” World Against Violence (W.A.V.) to address issues affecting middle school students. Six hundred middle school students from Essex County attended the full day event at Caldwell University on December 20th. Students participated in workshops on making positive choices, substance abuse prevention, teen dating, and Cyber-Safety. Over thirty representatives from various social service and youth agencies provided students with information on educational and recreational resources

To request additional information on community outreach programs or to request a speaker at your event, feel free to contact Nicole Graves-Watson, Community Justice Coordinator at (973) 621-4317.

Community Justice Unit Receives Excellence in Policing Award from the NJ Attorney General’s Office

In December, 2020, ECPO’s Community Justice Unit was the recipient of the Attorney General’s Excellence in Policing Award. The Community Justice Unit is dedicated to creating and putting forth programs aimed to provide children and adolescents with positive alternatives and interventional strategies to prevent delinquency. This Unit is comprised of Gwendolyn Williams, Executive Assistant Prosecutor and Nicole Graves-Watson, Community Justice Coordinator.

The Community Justice Unit engages the entire Essex County community by serving as a liaison between law enforcement and residents. The Unit promotes awareness about the role and functions of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. The Community Justice Unit plans and implements youth conferences and town hall meetings to address residents’ concerns. The Unit also holds a comprehensive summer internship program to introduce high school juniors to careers in law, law enforcement and government.

Gwendolyn Williams, Executive Assistant Prosecutor, has worked at the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office for the past twenty-seven years. Gwendolyn Williams is responsible for the supervision of the following units: Victim Witness Advocacy, Community Justice, Drug Court and Mental Health. In addition; Ms. Williams is responsible for handling human resources issues pertaining to support staff.

Nicole Graves-Watson, Community Justice Coordinator, has worked at the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office for the past thirteen years. Nicole Graves-Watson is responsible for creating and implementing programs aimed to provide children and adolescents with positive alternatives and interventional strategies to prevent delinquency. She plans and administers various conferences and town hall meetings to address substance abuse and other public safety issues.

The Community Justice Unit is honored to be a recipient of the Attorney General’s 21 County, 21st Century Community Policing Program Award on December 4, 2020. The Unit is appreciative of the recognition and look forward to continuing to serve Essex County residents.

2019 Operation Helping Hand Video

During the summer of 2019, ECPO participated in a program sponsored by the State of New Jersey with the support of the US Dept. of Health and Human Services to provide users of street opioids such as heroin the opportunity to go through a program of dependency treatment in lieu of prosecution following arrest. This program is called “Operation Helping Hand”. Under this program, ECPO coordinated two “street sweeps” in Orange and Irvington whereby parties arrested for purchase and possession of illegal drugs were given this treatment option. This was a small scale “pilot” program that will be expanded in 2020 with the continuing support of the State of New Jersey Attorney General’s Office. ECPO has produced a video featuring Acting Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II, which provides the public with an overview of the Helping Hand initiative. This video is available to view on our website.

Have an Essex County crime tip? Call: 877-TIPS-4-EC (877-847-7432) or e-mail: HomicideTips@njecpo.org Disclaimer