Public Integrity/Organized Crime
The Public Integrity/Organized Crime Unit of the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office is charged with the responsibility of investigating and prosecuting acts of alleged corruption by governmental and elected officials and a variety of criminal activities generally characterized as organized crime.
In the area of Public Integrity, this unit investigates and prosecutes allegations of misconduct by government officials and employees at the State, County, and municipal levels. In the area of organized crime, the unit is tasked with investigating and prosecuting organized criminal activity. Additionally, investigations frequently involve targets such as police officers, elected officials, government officials and employees, and individuals engaged in organized criminal activity.
Another significant function of the unit is to interact with municipal police departments in Passaic County to aid with complex investigations at the local level. As a result, the unit has developed a close working relationship with many of the municipal police departments in the county. In addition, the unit functions on a regular basis as an aid to the internal affairs divisions of many of these departments and cooperation in internal affairs matters has become commonplace. Often, these departments request this unit to assume responsibility for certain internal affairs investigations when it becomes apparent that the investigations would best be handled by this office rather than their own.
In addition to the formal investigations conducted by this unit, it receives and processes almost on a daily basis miscellaneous complaints and questions from attorneys, judges, elected officials, government officials, government employees and members of the public that do not result in criminal investigations. Complainants bringing forth this type of information are interviewed either in person or over the telephone, and this unit attempts to resolve the matters as expeditiously as possible. Frequently, these complaints or questions concern matters that are either civil in nature or do not involve criminal conduct. Although the response to these types of matters involves a substantial commitment of time and effort, this unit believes it is important that the public understand that while a complaint may not be criminal in nature, this unit will still do its best to aid in a resolution of the matter. Also, certain investigations result in files being closed and the matter referred to other agencies because appropriate administrative action was warranted rather than criminal prosecution. This unit is also mindful of the fact that criminal complaints may be politically motivated, especially in the area of alleged governmental corruption. This unit seeks to ensure that where an investigation disclosed no violation of the criminal law, the subject of the investigation is not harmed in any way by the mere existence of the investigation. Usually, these matters involved situations where there was either insufficient evidence to institute criminal proceedings or it was determined as a result of thorough investigation that there was no basis to the allegations.
The Public Integrity Unit has also assumed both legal and investigatory supervision of the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office Shooting Response Team (SRT). The SRT is responsible for the investigation of all incidents involving the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers and deaths occurring while in police custody within the boundaries of Passaic County. The SRT is divided into three teams and is composed of detectives from all units throughout the office. Pursuant to guidelines established by the New Jersey Attorney General, the Prosecutor is required to investigate all incidents involving the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers. Police officers are often required to respond to situations where they may have to use their service firearm or other forms of physical force in response to threatened or actual attacks. If a police officer’s response involves the discharge of that officer’s firearm, or the use of deadly force resulting in serious injury or death, the matter is investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office. Such investigations are also initiated whenever an individual dies while in police custody. In appropriate cases, the evidence is presented to the Grand Jury for a determination as to whether the conduct of the police officer should be the subject of criminal charges, or whether the police officer was justified in using deadly force.