The Investigative Division is charged with many functions beyond criminal and juvenile justice. Detectives are utilized to perform administrative investigations and background checks for a variety of reasons that serve the department and the township.
Professional Standards Services
The State of New Jersey requires every law enforcement agency to maintain standards of professional conduct and investigate all claims of inappropriate or improper police performance. To this end, the Attorney General’s Guideline for Internal Affairs was issued. This guideline requires that an Internal Affairs function must be created within every police department, and that qualified personnel are charged with investigating any and all reports of police misconduct. All police employees must take any complaint directed to their attention, including anonymous complaints.
Internal Affairs complaints include several types:
- Citizen Inquiry: Any citizen may contact a police supervisor on-duty to report questions they have regarding minor matters. Supervisor will listen and review all inquiries and attempt to resolve them to the citizen’s satisfaction. There are instances when a simple contact with a sergeant or lieutenant can explain a matter or put a citizen at ease.
- Complaint Against Personnel: Any person may request this form to officially report incidents or conduct that they find questionable. Complainants may then complete the form in their own words and submit it for official investigation. Complaints Against Personnel must be signed and may be submitted to any police employee at any time. C.A.P.’s are assigned case numbers and each complainant is contacted directly to acknowledge receipt of the form. Investigations are assigned to either a police supervisor or an Internal Affairs investigator depending on the nature of the complaint. All complaints are fully investigated and the complainants are notified by mail of the outcome. All Complaint Against Personnel investigations are retained permanently, including disciplinary action against officer where indicated. Click this link to file a complaint with Internal Affairs.
- Use of Deadly Force/ Complaints of Excessive Force: Police officers are authorized to use force, both deadly and non-deadly, under circumstances affirmed by New Jersey statutes and guidelines issued by the Attorney General. Mandatory training is provided several times per annum and training reports must be generated and submitted to the County Prosecutor. Every instance of police use of force is reviewed by several layers of supervision, and the use of deadly or significant non-deadly force at any time must be fully investigated. Any use of a firearm by police is submitted by the Essex County Prosecutor to a Grand Jury for official review and ruling.
- Official Misconduct/ Criminal Allegations: All police officers must perform their duties properly and within the confines of the law. Any instance or allegation of police conduct that indicates illegal or unethical performance is fully investigated by Internal Affairs investigators in cooperation with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office of Professional Standards. Investigations of police misconduct are investigated fully and completely, any officer who is found to have acted illegally is disciplined and/or prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
- Supervisory Investigations: The police department is a paramilitary organization with levels of management represented by a rank structure: police sergeants are front-line supervisors, lieutenants are mid-level supervisors, captains are command-level supervisors and the Chief of Police is the highest ranking officer and agency executive. Every supervisor is charged with the maintenance of order, discipline and quality performance among the officers they supervise. Supervisors must monitor all police actions and performance, and correct any deficiencies that come to their attention. It is therefore necessary that each supervisor initiate an investigation of any officer or other employee who performs in sub-standard fashion. Supervisor’s Investigations are conducted to address minor rule infractions and other matters that indicate performance that is poor, unsatisfactory or unacceptable. These investigations are assigned file numbers by the Internal Affairs Unit, and investigated fully with the goal of identifying and correcting personnel performance that is sub-standard.
Police Candidate/ Employment Background Investigations
All applicants for employment with the South Orange Police Department must submit to a rigorous and thorough investigation prior to appointment. Detectives are assigned to conduct Background Checks which examine each candidate’s residency eligibility, criminal history, Motor Vehicle record, work history and other factors used to determine suitability for employment. Candidates for the position of Police Officer are further required to submit to a full medical examination, a comprehensive psychological examination that is law enforcement-specific, and random testing for the presence of illegal narcotics. A final report for each candidate is submitted to the Chief of Police with a summary of findings.
Firearms Application Investigations
South Orange residents who wish to obtain any type of permits or identification regarding firearms must apply through the South Orange Police Department. Background Investigations are conducted under the guidance and authority of the New Jersey State Police Firearms Unit. Applicants must be of legal age, permanent primary residents of South Orange, have a clean history of criminal arrest and/or conviction, have no history of Domestic Violence offenses or court orders (i.e. Temporary or Final Restraining Order), no history of mental illness or record of involuntary commitment, and no documented issues of character or impairment that might exclude them or present a public safety conflict. Firearms Investigations can be lengthy, and no investigation will commence until all necessary paperwork has been submitted.
Alcoholic Beverage Licensing and Enforcement
South Orange Village Hall is the local licensing body authorized by the New Jersey Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and all applications for liquor licenses are forwarded to the South Orange Police Department for investigation. Criteria established by the A.B.C. are applied to determine the eligibility of all applicants, including checks for criminal history, financial solvency and propriety, personal references and other pertinent information.
Megan’s Law Registration and Compliance
The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Megan’s Law Unit monitors all offenders in this county required by statutes to register, whether annually or every 90 days. South Orange detectives perform the actual registration of all offenders who reside in this municipality and serve as liaisons to the Prosecutor’s Office. Guidelines for reporting and community notification are scrupulously observed, and offenders are carefully monitored as permitted by law. Annual reports are filed by the local liaisons, who maintain contact with the Prosecutor’s Office and receive regular training.
Applications for Local Permits or Licenses
All applicants for permits/licenses issued by South Orange Village are submitted for a basic check for eligibility, residency (where applicable), financial propriety, criminal history, etc. Examples of such permits are those granted for soliciting, raffles, garage/yard sales and business-related licensing. All checks are confidential and used solely in reference to the application submitted, except where evidence of criminality or active court warrants exists.