MOUNT ARLINGTON BOROUGH, NJ (Morris County) – Morris County Prosecutor Robert J. Carroll briefed the Morris County League of Municipalities attendees on the impact the COVID-19 public health emergency has had on criminal justice and what challenges face law enforcement in 2021 during their September meeting.
The dinner meeting was held at the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club on September 15 and was moderated by Guy Piserchia, Mayor of Long Hill Township.
Prosecutor Carroll introduced himself and the role his office plays in the criminal justice system, and how it continues to operate under ever-changing COVID-19 circumstances and protocols, including adjusting to new legislation and Attorney General’s Office directives. Despite the public health emergency, in 2020, the MCPO conducted 2,375 prosecutions, with 449 concluding by guilty plea, and reviewed 3,398 other cases.
Prosecutor Carroll outlined some key challenges – a rise in fatal opiate overdoses; a high number of vehicle thefts (frequently involving key fobs left inside); and increases in the number of suicides, domestic violence, criminal gun violence, and sex crimes/child endangerment cases.
“Local police, county agencies and federal law enforcement are coordinating together in operations, intelligence sharing, and are showing real progress dealing with the challenges. We have active narcotics and auto theft task forces combatting these criminals using good police work, coupled with new technologies. This enables a focused, strategic, and tactical approach to investigations wherever they occur. The MCPO utilizes some of the newest and most effective high technology investigative tools to track, identify, and ultimately arrest criminals seeking to avoid apprehension. For example, these high-tech techniques played a significant role in two of the three major murder cases we made arrests on within a recent 16-day span,” Carroll said.
“It bears repeating that the public can greatly help our efforts by removing their key fobs every time they leave their cars,” Carroll said.
Since the launch of a program equipping law enforcement with Narcan program, there have been 1,079 deployments, and 92 percent or 989 were successful in reversing otherwise fatal overdose situations, meaning nearly a thousand lives have been saved as a result of intervention by law enforcement.
“To address the mental health challenge, the MCPO is working with the Mental Health Association, Sheriff James Gannon, and the judiciary on a coordinated early identification program – dubbed the Mental Health Diversionary Program – uniting police, prosecutorial and medical specialists to conduct evaluations of subjects believed or claiming a mental health issue. Sheriff Gannon leads the Community Connections program, offering eligible defendants helpful alternatives including social, medical and legal services to leave the addict or criminal life and rejoin society,” Carroll said.
MCPO staff and members of local police departments are also undergoing Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training, to provide a more effective response to those dealing with a mental or behavioral health crisis.
“The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and our County and local police agency partners are dedicated to restoring and strengthening civic faith in law enforcement, and working with our diverse communities to create workable lines of communication to address issues that may not have been addressed before. I am here to say, unequivocally, your law enforcement agencies are working together and effectively cooperating at every major level. Investigative and support services are combined for more efficiencies and cost savings. More importantly, I see a greater unity within our communities, despite political differences we hear about every day. What we absolutely need is your continued support and cooperation as community leaders. Together, we will respond to and successfully confront many of these challenges,” Carroll said.