Join the Community Police Collaborative (CPC)

The South Orange Community Police Collaborative (CPC) is currently seeking three new members. The CPC was created as an official Village committee in 2019, with a mission to advise the Township of South Orange Village Board of Trustees regarding its oversight of the Village Police Department. South Orange residents are invited to apply for one of the following positions:

•  One adult from our community to serve as Committee Member

•  One adult from our community to serve as Alternate Committee Member

•  One youth (16-21) from our community to serve as Youth Representative

As an adult or youth Committee Member or Alternate, you will be asked to:

•  Attend monthly meetings, which take place on the second Thursday of each month from 7:30 to 9 pm.

•  Attend live events when possible as a representative of the CPC.

•  Collaborate with members of the SO Police Department to increase communication, transparency and goodwill within our community.

•  Share your point of view and give feedback on information that comes before the committee.

•  Vote on various actions taken by the Committee.

•  Help develop best practices to address community concerns about policing.

•  Help create programs and activities to foster engagement between the community and the police department.

•  Help share the CPC’s knowledge and information with the wider South Orange Community.

If you are interested in joining our Village Committee, please send an email with your contact information to: cpcquestions@southorange.org

Community Forum on Safety and Policing is June 13th!

By the CPC

The Community Coalition on Race will be holding a Zoom Webinar on Safety and Policing on Monday, June 13th at 7:30 pm and all are welcome to attend. Attendees should Register Here in advance.

At this community forum you will get the facts on local and regional crime, learn what our community can do to be safe and welcoming, and learn what is helpful and what is not helpful, among many other topics.

The panel itself will include:

  • Maplewood Community Board on Police co-chair Ayoola Akinnuoye
  • South Orange Community Police Collaborative chair Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad
  • South Orange Police Department
  • Maplewood Police Chief James DeVaul
  • Dr. Alexis Karteron
  • Dr. Sara Wakefield

We hope that you will take the time to register and attend. Click on the graphic below to register!

Body Worn Cameras Now Being Used by SO Police

By the CPC and SO Police Dept.

The South Orange Police Department has announced that it has deployed body-worn video cameras on their police officers.

The cameras will be used as per the South Orange Police Department Body-Worn Camera Policy which is in accordance with guidelines established by the New Jersey Attorney General and directives issued by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. (see link below)

According to the NJ OAG BWC Directive, a body worn camera (“BWC”) “is a device worn by a law enforcement officer that makes an electronic audio and video recording of activities that take place during any law enforcement action. The term does not include a mobile video recording device when mounted inside a police vehicle (i.e., a dash cam). The term also does not include any form of electronic recording device worn by a law enforcement officer while acting in an undercover capacity … BWC footage provides objective evidence of what occurred and plays a crucial role in the public discourse around police accountability. BWCs also serve as a powerful deterrent to misconduct by both the police and members of the public interacting with police. As such, BWCs have gained wide support among public and law enforcement, alike. The policies and standards established in this Policy are designed to help police departments achieve an optimal balance between potentially competing interests.”

All uniformed police officers assigned to the SOPD Patrol Division will be utilizing these cameras to increase the quality of interactions with our community and to more accurately capture encounters. 

Officers will announce the use of the cameras, when appropriate, which will be visibly attached to the exterior of their police uniform. These cameras (see photo with this article) are worn by SOPD Officers on the front/center of their uniform shirt.

For more information on the NJ Attorney General Directive governing body-worn camera use, click here: NJ OAG BWC Directive

Save the Date! National Night Out is August 2nd

By the CPC and SO Police Dept.

The Township of South Orange Village, the SO Police Department and the Community Police Collaborative are excited to ask everyone to Save the Date of Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022, when we will celebrate National Night Out along with communities across the state and country. Stay tuned for more information about the festivities that will be taking place!

Here’s some info from the National Night Out website (www.natw.org):

National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. It also enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. In addition, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.

Millions of neighbors take part in National Night Out across thousands of communities from all fifty states, U.S. territories and military bases worldwide on the first Tuesday in August (Texas and select areas celebrate on the first Tuesday in October). Neighborhoods host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and much, much more.

So … mark your calendars and get ready for a night to remember!

SOPD Renews Police Hiring – Applications Available

By SO Police Dept.

HOW TO APPLY

The South Orange Police Department has renewed hiring police officers and is accepting applications at their headquarters. If you would like to apply, please respond to South Orange Police Headquarters located at 201 South Orange Avenue South Orange, New Jersey with a printed cover letter and updated resume and speak to a Detective and/or the Tour Commander to pick up an application.

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS

  1. Must be a resident of the State of New Jersey during the term of appointment;
  2. Must be at least 18 years of age and no more than 65 years of age;
  3. Must be able read, write and speak the English language well and intelligently and have a high school diploma or its equivalent;
  4. Must be sound in body and of good health and be able to perform the physical functions of the duties assigned;
  5. Must be of good moral character and shall not have been convicted of any crime or offense involving moral turpitude;
  6. Must possess a valid New Jersey driver’s license
  7. Must possess NJ Police Training Commission Certification
  8. Never have been a member of any party or group or organization advocating the overthrow of the government of the United States, or any sate thereof.

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

May include but is not limited to the following:

  1. Protect life, private and public property
  2. Prepare and present detailed written reports and cases for prosecutions and/or investigations of criminal, civil, and traffic offenses.
  3. Communicate effectively with the public, other agencies, in court and other formal settings
  4. Ability and willingness to work a variety of shifts of up to twelve hours duration or longer, including nights, weekends, and legal holidays.
  5. Read and comprehend legal and non-legal documents, including the preparation and processing of such documents as citations, affidavits and warrants.
  6. Have a prerequisite level of computer knowledge and familiarity in order to perform computer inquiries and type reports on computer system.
  7. Ability and willingness to lead others in solving community problems, facilitating discussion, and negotiating solutions.
  8. Endure verbal and mental abuse when confronted with hostile views and opinions of suspects and others encountered in an antagonistic environment.
  9. Stop traffic violators and take appropriate action, identify suspicious individuals and investigate their activities.
  10. Be able to safely operate a motor vehicle often under adverse conditions.
  11. Apprehend violators or offenders of the law, sometimes involving substantial elements of personal danger. In instances where lawful arrests are resisted, the officer must be prepared and able at times, through high levels of physical exertion, to protect citizens, themselves, fellow officers, and overcome the resistance

The SOPD welcomes all qualified applicants and encourages those who are interested to find out more information at the SOPD headquarters, 201 South Orange Avenue South Orange, New Jersey.

SOPD Reminds Motorists to Use their Seat Belts … or Get a Ticket

By the CPC and SO Police Dept.

CLICK IT OR TICKET SOUTH ORANGE

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

From May 24th to June 5th, South Orange Police Department is participating in the national “Click It or Ticket” campaign.   Seat belts reduce injury and death when properly worn.  

SOPD will use roving details (given resources, and either observing in a vehicle or on foot) to comply with this effort.  Two or three officers are assigned to patrol with the specific objective of issuing seat belt violations.   

BEFORE YOU GET ON THE ROAD – BE PREPARED

If you are stopped for a seat belt violation, officers may also check your license, registration, insurance, and lights. So be prepared.  In addition to making sure everyone in your vehicle is buckled up (front and back seats), please check the following: 

  • Make sure your registration and insurance cards are easy to find in your car, and are up to date. 
    • If you have just moved to New Jersey and have registered the car in another state you only have 60 days to transfer the registration to New Jersey (120 days during a public health crisis). Click this link for more details.
  • Check your inspection sticker as well and make sure it is up to date.
  • Pull out your license and make sure it is up to date. You can renew online.  Click here.
  • Take a walk around your car in the evening and make sure the headlight and brake lights are working.  If your windshield is broken or cracked, please make an appointment to get it fixed.
  • Talk to the new drivers in your life and review what they should and shouldn’t do during a traffic stop. There are many different resources online, such as this: Click here.

As a driver it is your responsibility to comply with rules of the road and ensure your vehicle is maintained per state mandated requirements.

All traffic stops in South Orange are recorded by the Body Worn Cameras (BWC) on officers, as well as by the dashboard cameras from the police vehicle (if present.)

Drivers have the right to use the courts to challenge any summons, and should avoid debating the issue during the traffic stop.  Drivers can better understand their own rights during a traffic stop by reviewing this resource.  

SEAT BELT SAFETY

In 2021, the number of fatal crashes in New Jersey climbed to 672  – 21% higher than 2020 – and the number of lives lost in those crashes rose nearly 20% to 702. Taken together, the number of crashes and deaths are the highest recorded in New Jersey since 2007. Preliminary year-to-date data show that crashes and fatalities are up more than 15% from May 22, 2021, putting the state on track for another sharp increase by year’s end. Front seat belt usage rate in New Jersey currently stands at 93.9%. However, adults riding in rear seats are buckling up at a significantly lower rate, only 48% according to the most recent surveys.

CLICK IT OR TICKET IN ESSEX COUNTY

During the 2019 campaign (the most recent year for which data is available), 31% of all violations issued in Essex County were related to seat belt usage. (Please note that multiple violations can be issued to one driver.). South Orange represented 10% of Essex County violations issued, behind Essex County Sheriffs (25%), Bloomfield (14%), Montclair (13%), Fairfield (12%) and Livingston (also at 10%). Maplewood, in comparison, had 2% of the Essex County violations.

Of the violations issued in South Orange, only about 1% were related to seat belt usage, 6% to speeding, and 86% other reasons. Maplewood PD’s violation distribution included 26% for seat belt usage, 7% for phone texting, and 64% for other reasons. Violation issued for failure to buckle up across other Essex County Police Departments: Essex Falls (58%), Belleville (52%), West Caldwell (51%), Essex County Sheriffs (46%) and North Caldwell (42%.) The full report is available here.

The CPC recommends further analysis to understand the discrepancy in the number of violations related to seat belt usage across these municipalities. We also recommend further research into the decision of four of our neighbors — Newark, Orange, East Orange and Irvington — not to participate in the 2019 campaign.

The Community Police Collaborative and the South Orange Police Department want all community members and visitors to be safe while driving, and the best thing you can do to protect yourself in a car is to fasten their seatbelt. So “click it” and you’ll avoid a ticket, but most of all, you’ll avoid serious or life-threatening injury.

SO Police Offer Patches in Honor of Autism Awareness Month

By the SO Police Department and CPC

The South Orange PBA and SOA Local 12 are teaming up to present limited edition police patches in honor of Autism Awareness Month on sale now for $10/each. All proceeds are being donated to Nassan’s Place, which is located in our neighboring community of East Orange.

It is easy to order a patch, but do it soon, as quantities are limited. Simply go to this online form and fill out the information. Patches can be also be purchased at the three South Orange locations: SO Police Headquarters (201 W S Orange Ave.), Town Hall Deli (74 1st St.) and Kitchen a la Mode (9 W S Orange Ave.)

Nassan’s Place is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that is helping to make a difference in the lives of children and families affected by autism in and around under-served communities by providing educational and recreational programs, social outings, and resources.

The organization was founded 9 years ago by Nadine Wright-Arbubakkr, a mother of an autistic child, 16-year old Nassan, so parents wouldn’t have to struggle to find affordable programs and services as she did. Learn more at: www.NassansPlace.org

If you have any questions, please contact Officer Nicholas Lonero at pbalocal12donations@gmail.com.

Attached below is a flyer that also gives you information about this extraordinary benefit in honor of Autism Awareness Month.

South Orange Names Ernesto Morillo New Chief of Police

By Community Police Collaborative

On Monday, March 14th, the South Orange Board of Trustees voted unanimously to appoint 17-year SOPD veteran Lt. Ernesto Morillo as its next Chief of Police. The search to find a new Chief took over a year and according to Village President Sheena Collum included a Civil Service test for Police Chiefs, as well as interviews with the South Orange Board of Trustees, the Community Police Collaborative and Village Administrator Adam Loehner.

Married with three children, Morillo is a long-time Essex County resident. He is the son of Elena and Ernesto Morillo who immigrated here from the Dominican Republic and is the youngest of five children. Morillo is a member of Samson #66 Masonic Lodge PHA and is a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He will serve as the first minority Chief of Police in the history of the South Orange Police Department. Morillo notes that “I believe that as police officers, we are more guardians than warriors. We need to be able to listen and learn from our community, align our common goals, and have the flexibility to adapt to changing needs. Integrity, professionalism and compassion should be easily identifiable in every officer privileged enough to wear a badge.”

Acting Police Chief, Capt. Stephen Dolinac, who took over following the retirement of former Chief Kyle Kroll, gave his strong support, “Ernesto’s continuous, unrelenting positive attitude has been a benchmark for high performance and delivering value to the community, the department, and the individuals under his command. His knowledge and skills as an educator, a mentor, and an officer have developed police personnel both on a professional and personal level. Our department is at its best when we have the right people in the right places, and I extend my congratulations to Chief Morillo.”

Morillo joined the SOPD in 2005 as a patrol officer, becoming a detective in 2013 in the Criminal Investigations Unit. He subsequently rose to the position of Lieutenant and Shift Commander in 2019, where he has successfully mentored, and developed a comprehensive training program for, newly graduated officers. He is now also in the process of receiving his Ph.D. at Seton Hall University in Higher Education, Leadership, Management, and Policy. Morillo is also well known to many in the community through his work with youth and families. He is an instructor at the Junior Police Academy, participates in the Community Police Collaborative, and has championed the Village’s Community Care and Justice initiative led by Trustee Donna Coallier. Currently he is supporting an Autism Awareness Month fundraising campaign, designed by SOPD officer Nick Lonero, set to launch in April.

Village President Collum gave her unequivocal support: “I cannot adequately put into words how wildly excited I am to welcome Ernesto into this new role,” said Collum. “He embodies a strong and empathetic duty to care, understands the importance of community collaboration and relationship building, is a strong advocate for transparency and data, and most importantly, he knows that fostering public trust builds legitimacy.”

Morillo’s appointment is effective March 15, 2022. However, a formal swearing-in ceremony will take place on Thursday, March 31 at 7:00 p.m. at Orange Lawn Tennis Club. The public is invited to join.

Regarding his appointment, Morillo stated: “South Orange Police stands on a strong foundation of young, dedicated individuals, and I intend to create an environment where they can be successful by providing opportunities where they can excel and be their most authentic selves. I thank Village President Collum, the Board of Trustees, Administration, Community Police Collaborative, and my law enforcement colleagues for putting their faith in me. Every day I will work to not let you down.”

Want to Help SOPD Make Pedestrians Safer? Hiring School Crossing Guards Now!

By South Orange PD

The South Orange Police Department is looking for dependable adults to fill their part time and per diem School Crossing Guard positions.

You can be a part of their efforts and help to ensure the safety of children and other pedestrians as they cross the street before and after school in South Orange.

Crossing guards work approximately 10 hours per week and have opportunities to work special details.

Starting pay is $19.74 per hour and all necessary equipment is provided.

For more information, please contact Crossing Guard Supervisor Lt. Adrian Acevedo at 973-763-3000 ext 7802, or email Lt. Acevedo at aacevedo@southorange.org.

A flyer with information is also attached to this article. Hope to have you join us!

SOPD Seeks Volunteers for Domestic Violence Response Team

By South Orange PD

Lt. Adrian Acevedo, along with Alexandria Flores (the SOPD liaison from the Rachel Coalition) are seeking volunteers for the South Orange Domestic Violence Response Team. Would you like to volunteer as a South Orange DVRT member? Want to help your fellow neighbors through family challenges? Then reach out to Lt. Acevedo of the South Orange Police Department’s Special Operations Division to find out what the Domestic Violence Response Team does and sign up for training. The Rachel Coalition, a division of Jewish Family Service of Metro West NJ, provides services for victims of domestic violence, and they are offering training as a DVRT Volunteer starting on Monday, March 7th.

As a specially trained DVRT volunteer you will:

• Provide support, information and referrals to victims at police headquarters
• Educate victims about their legal rights in obtaining Temporary Restraining Orders

Applicants must be:

• 21 years of age or older
• Have access to transportation
• Serve on an on-call shift basis
• Willing to submit to a background check and fingerprinting

The 40-hour training course will be provided to successful applicants. No prior experience is required. Training begins on Monday, March 7th from 6 to 9 pm. To find out more information and/or to sign up, please email either Lt. Acevedo or Alexandria Flores:

Alexandria Flores: aflores@jfsmetrowest.org
Lt. Adrian Acevedo: aacevedo@southorange.org

A flyer with information is also attached to this article.