Sheriff’s Office Functions
COURTHOUSE SECURITY DIVISION
The Sheriff’s Office is responsible for maintaining the integrity of 29 courts, the Grand Jury and various hearing officers assigned to the Union County Judicial Vicinage. Officers assigned to judicial functions perform these services while maintaining a secure and professional profile. In addition to security functions, these officers ensure that parties to actions, stenographers, lawyers and witnesses are present when the court is in session. A major function of the court officers is the secure transportation of prisoners to and from the courts. Each year more than 20,000 prisoners are produced in Union County courts.
EMERGENCY MEDICAL RESPONSE TEAMS
The Sheriff’s Office has developed an Emergency Medical Response team consisting of ten Sheriff’s Officers who maintain EMT certification. Team members respond to medical emergencies that develop in the Court House Complex. Sheriff’s Officers evaluate the situation, stabilize the victim and request the appropriate medical response from Elizabeth’s Emergency Medical Services.
Five Sheriff’s Officers are American Heart Association CPR instructors. They conduct CPR classes for Sheriff’s Officers, judicial staff and county employees.
The emergency medical response team currently has six defibrillators, one in each building, for which all members are qualified to use.
The primary responsibility of the Transportation Unit is the movement of Union County Jail inmates to other correctional institutions, area hospitals, psychiatric facilities and other County or Municipal Courts.
Transportation team members serve as a backup to CourtHouse Security and Courtroom Security staff. These Officers frequently fill in during periods of staffing shortages. Local police departments and the Union County Prosecutors Office have requested the Transportation Unit’s assistance during raids and periods of civil disturbance. Team members are recognized for their professionalism and experience in the movement of large numbers of prisoners.
FUGITIVE INVESTIGATION UNIT
This unit is responsible for the apprehension of fugitives who are the subject of Union County Bench Warrants. These fugitives are wanted by the courts for various reasons which include bail jumping, violation of probation, failure to appear for scheduled court appearances, or domestic non- support. New Bench Warrants issued each year number in the thousands.
The execution of any arrest warrant is an extremely hazardous task. Sheriff’s Officers put at great risk when they follow leads and pursue fugitives into their own environment. Early morning raids have proven to be an effective tool in apprehending fugitives when they are most vulnerable to arrest. Our warrant teams do not restrict their activity to towns located in Union County and follow a fugitive’s trail across the state.
EXTRADITIONS & RENDITIONS
Many fugitives from justice elect to flee to another state in an attempt to avoid apprehension. This decision to flee creates additional work for Law Enforcement Officers charged with their apprehension. The Sheriff’s Extradition Unit is responsible for tracking these fugitives. The NCIC and the SCIC computer systems have proven to be invaluable tools in locating out of state fugitives.
Once a fugitive is located the Extradition Unit must prepare the proper paperwork and make the necessary arrangements to return the fugitive to New Jersey. This effort may even involve securing a Governor’s Warrant for a fugitive who chooses to fight the extradition process.
The return of Union County fugitives arrested in other states can become a costly proposition. The Union County Sheriff’s Office makes every effort to hold down these costs but the final extradition decision rest with the Prosecutor’s Office.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE UNIT
Family violence is an incipient disease that has plagued society since the beginning of man’s social history. Unfortunately, it was not recognized for its consequences and victims were forced to live in silence by misapplied guilt and society’s choice to look the other way. The issue of Domestic Violence rose to the level of social consciousness in the mid 1980′s. Since that time legislators, law enforcement executives, social organizations and church groups have worked tirelessly to protect domestic violence victims and educate the public that this form of social behavior is both unacceptable and intolerable.
In 1988 Sheriff Ralph Froehlich established New Jersey’s first Family Violence Unit. Members of this unit have been carefully selected and receive specialized training in conflict resolution, family dynamics and domestic violence laws. The Family Violence Unit works during the evening when it has the greatest opportunity for contact with both the victims and offenders.
The primary responsibility of the Family Violence Unit is the service of Temporary Restraining Orders upon domestic violence defendants. This often involves the eviction of the offender from the residence. Evictions are emotional events with a great potential for renewed violence. Sheriff’s Officers must enforce the law without passing judgement on the defendant.
In November 1992, the Sheriff’s Office and the Elizabeth Police Department joined together to form a Family Violence Assistance Unit.
SHERIFF’S LABOR ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (S.L.A.P.)
The Sheriff’s Labor Assistance Program (S.L.A.P.) is an alternative to incarceration where Superior and Municipal Court Judges have the latitude of sentencing non-violent offenders to work details supervised by the Sheriff’s Office. The participants are carefully screened and must meet stringent eligibility requirements. Sheriff’s Officers have directed S.L.A.P. details in all 21 Union County municipalities. These details vary and may involve roadside cleanup, public golf course or park maintenance, painting of municipal buildings or other community oriented projects. The program, started in 1993, has save Union County taxpayers millions of dollars through labor hours and the costs of incarceration.
LEGAL PROCESS UNIT
The Sheriff’s Legal Process Division is comprised of the business office and the legal process squad. The personnel assigned to the business office perform the clerical and administrative functions of the division, while the actual service of process is the responsibility of the officers assigned to the legal process squad. The duties of the Sheriff’s officers must also be performed in accordance with court rules and state statutes. This unit serves Summons and Complaints, Notices of Motions, Orders, Writs, and various other types of legal documents
BUREAU OF IDENTIFICATION
This bureau is responsible for processing all persons arrested by Sheriff’s Officers, appearing in the First Appearance Court and those incarcerated in the Ralph Oriscello Correctional Facility. The Identification Bureau assists local law enforcement agencies in the processing of crime scenes, fire investigations, and the identification of suspects in criminal investigations. They also produce public service and training videos that are distributed to other law enforcement agencies, schools and civic organizations. The Units within the bureau’s operational control are; the Major Crime Unit, Fire Investigation Unit, and the High Tech/ Security Infrastructure Unit.
K-9 Search & Rescue Unit
The K-9 Search & Rescue Unit’s assignments include searching buildings, locating missing persons and detecting narcotics. Their duties also involve bomb investigations and specialized patrol functions. The services of this unit are requested by local police departments, Prosecutor’s Office and the County Police within Union County. The K-9 Search and Rescue unit also services departments outside of Union County when requested. They also respond to calls which include providing assistance to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Drug Enforcement Agency, New Jersey State Police, U.S. Customs, U.S. Postal Police, and the U.S. Secret Service.