Juvenile Aid Bureau

The Juvenile Aid Bureau handles all incidents and issues that involve persons who are under the age of eighteen and unemancipated. This includes all criminal incidents with juvenile offenders or victims, and also many non-criminal matters that require police intervention.

Child advocacy is also handled through the Juvenile Aid Bureau, and detectives assigned are trained to interact with agencies such as the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (D.Y.F.S.) and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Juvenile Justice Unit.

Juvenile detectives are trained to investigate crimes with a particular emphasis on prosecution when indicated and rehabilitation when possible. Youthful offenders are treated with special safeguards and procedures that assess the seriousness of each offense and determine the precise course of action that best suits the offenders and the community.

Juvenile Aid Detective Duties
Criminal Investigations Involving Juveniles
These crimes require all of the same skills as those involving adults, with the added burdens of safeguarding the juveniles within the laws pertaining them. Juvenile incidents have a far greater expectation of privacy and anonymity under New Jersey law, and these rights are scrupulously protected at all times.

Young offenders, especially first-time offenders, require extensive oversight and protection to divert them from future recidivism. Youthful victims need clear and visible support from law enforcement, especially if issues exist concerning their immediate family and guardianship. The procedures and courts related to juvenile justice are separate and distinct from adult venues, and juvenile detectives must be completely acquainted with these to effectively perform their duties.

Child Abuse
All incidents involving allegations of abuse toward children are investigated fully and completely. D.Y.F.S. and the Prosecutor’s Office are involved in all such cases, and specialized methods of investigation are employed as prescribed by law. The well-being of each child involved is the paramount concern of investigators.

Juvenile Conference Committee
Juvenile offenses that would not meet the criteria of serious crimes if committed by an adult are handled within the municipality where the juvenile offenders reside. Therefore, the South Orange Police Department oversees all minor offense committed by South Orange residents regardless of where the violation occurs.

The State of New Jersey created the function of the Juvenile Conference Committee so that each community may appoint qualified members to hear such matters and resolve them locally. Juvenile Committee members are selected by the Chief of Police and his designated juvenile officers based upon their various credentials and expertise, and the committee meets several times annually as needed.

Stationhouse Adjustment Program
This program was developed recently by the Attorney General’s Office to encourage all police agencies to divert juvenile offenders with minor infractions from the justice system. Stationhouse adjustments are made when investigating police determine that a juvenile has been involved in a minor incident and have little or no prior history of delinquent behavior. Juvenile detectives review all such cases and attempt to resolve them through means other than the signing of complaints of juvenile delinquency.

Methods involve the use of community service, assignment of restitution, referral to qualified counseling or youth associations and direct interaction between detectives and the juveniles. Records and reports are kept internally and forwarded to the Prosecutor’s Office as prescribed by the Attorney General’s guideline.

School Resource Officer
A trained, certified juvenile detective is assigned full-time to South Orange Middle School as a police liaison and youth specialist for daily interaction with students, faculty and staff. This program places the Juvenile Aid Bureau in direct contact with school children at a critical age, and is designed to address issues and intervene positively at the earliest stages of potential conflict. The officer also creates and promotes a positive image of law enforcement that aspires to attain optimal acceptance and cooperation with the community’s younger members.

Junior Police Academy
South Orange Police Department suffered a devastating loss on May 26, 2006 when Police Officer Jason B. Thompson died suddenly at the age of 22. Jason was a shining star with the department and a true son of South Orange who grew up here and excelled at everything he ever pursued. The loss of P/O Thompson spurred his family, friends and fellow officers to commemorate his life by creating the South Orange Junior Police Academy, a one-week course for students 12-14 years of age who wish to know more about Law Enforcement.

The academy is staffed by South Orange police personnel and involves classroom instruction, field trips and special guests. Students are provided meals and snacks as well as transportation to various police facilities in Essex County, and each graduate receives a Certificate of Achievement for successfully completing the course.

Juvenile Aid Bureau personnel are charged with the protection and safety of society’s most vulnerable members, and detectives maintain strong contact with parents, schools, community groups and all individuals who share the goal of serving the youth of South Orange.