Arson is defined as the intentional and malicious burning of, or attempt to, burn property. Arson occurs in suburban, rural and urban areas and affects all social and economic strata. It is a violent crime which destroys property and sometimes takes lives.
Members of the Passaic County Arson Unit are on 24-hour call to respond to any fire scene. After the fire has been extinguished by local firefighters, the Arson Unit investigators examine the scene in order to determine the origin and cause of the fire. Many investigations result in ruling out arson activity, and finding the cause of the fire to be accidental or electrical misuse.
Should a fire be determined to be incendiary, the investigator then seeks to determine the identity of the arsonist. Working with local police and fire departments, and frequently with state, federal, and private agencies, the investigator begins the arduous and often complex task of putting together a case sufficiently strong to warrant prosecution. Post-fire investigations are overseen by the unit’s assistant prosecutor who renders legal advice and prepares the cases for presentation to a Grand Jury. After indictment, the unit retains the more complex cases for trial and sentencing. Other cases are turned over to the Trial Section for prosecution.