MORRIS COUNTY — Morris County Prosecutor Robert J. Carroll was the guest keynote speaker for this year’s 200 Club of Morris County annual meeting, taking the opportunity to discuss the role the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office plays in the criminal justice system and how operations have evolved post- COVID-19. The event was held at Birchwood Manor on Monday, November 14.
Prosecutor Carroll explained the MCPO’s scope of services includes conducting investigations, prosecuting criminal cases, and supporting police departments and state police in their operational functions. The office handles such cases as animal cruelty to major crimes/homicides, domestic violence, illegal drugs, vehicle thefts, sex crimes and child endangerments, financial crimes, and internal affairs for the county and local law enforcement. As of last week, the MCPO has been re-accredited by the New Jersey Association of Police Chiefs.
Even during the challenges and disruptions caused by COVID-19, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office handled 1,581 criminal cases in 2021. Among those, 558 were resolved by guilty pleas. A number of cases remain open. The office also reviewed thousands of cases sent up from the municipal police departments.
The Prosecutor highlighted current challenges facing law enforcement in Morris County – a rise in fatal opiate overdoses and fentanyl usage, vehicle thefts and burglaries, and gun-related offenses.
The Joint Narcotics Task Force works collaboratively to break up distribution operations and prosecute offenders. The MCPO strives to also address the underlying addiction issue. In Morris County, law enforcement and first responders are equipped with Narcan to reverse overdoses, conducting 1,079 Narcan deployments between 2014 and 2021, which resulted in 989 life-saving reversals.
The MCPO, together with the Court, participates in the Community Connections program run by the Morris County Sheriff’s Office, which provides a whole menu of services to subjects identified as appropriate for treatment. The MCPO has also instituted specialized Crisis Intervention Training to help police and first responders identify subjects in need and manage a crisis successfully.
Auto thieves have been targeting key fobs left inside unsecured vehicles to enter homes, and have utilized stolen cars in other violent crimes. Morris County’s dedicated Auto Theft Task Force uses intelligence-based techniques to investigate vehicle thefts, which recently have exhibited a conspiratorial and organized theft pattern. The MCPO is working with the Attorney General’s Office, NJSP, and state and federal legislators on theft-specific legislation, and has applied for a $10 million grant to purchase additional automated license plate readers.
“Our partner local, county, and state law enforcement serve as force multipliers to thwart these criminals. But to effectively combat this major problem we still need the public’s cooperation… be sure to remove your fobs!,” Prosecutor Carroll said.
Prosecutor Carroll said, “Another priority of the MCPO is to restore and enhance community faith in law enforcement, and working with our diverse communities to create workable lines of communication to dialogue about issues that have gone under-addressed. In pursuit of that goal, we have periodic meetings with our community and faith leaders, as well as providing free legal seminars on key areas affecting the community, such as use of force, juvenile justice, marijuana decriminalization, and presentations to schools on bias and bullying.”
Prosecutor Carroll said, “I am fortunate to lead an organization with such a talented and dedicated group of professionals. Dedicated to public service, our prosecutors and investigators are a good mix of experienced professionals and veteran command staff, alongside hard-working, well-trained younger personnel. Our partner agencies – local police, firefighters, and first responders – are well-trained, educated, and sensitive to each community’s needs. I sincerely thank President Dr. Rob D’Emidio and the 200 Club for the opportunity to address the club, and thank them for their steadfast support for first responders and law enforcement since 1971.”
Prosecutor Carroll also recalled notable moments from the private and public sectors of his legal career.