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:

If you have any questions, please contact Officer Nicholas Lonero at

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

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:
Lt. Adrian Acevedo:

A flyer with information is also attached to this article.

Now Hiring at SOPD – Application Deadline is Feb. 28

By South Orange PD

The South Orange Police Department is pleased to announce that the New Jersey Civil Service Commission will be holding examinations for entry level police officers. Successful completion of this test is required to apply and be considered for employment as a police officer in the Township of South Orange Village. 

This is a preferential hiring process for residents of South Orange between the ages of 18 to 35.  Applicants must meet certain requirements in order to considered for employment including: United States citizenship, graduation from a high school or approved equivalent, possession of a valid NJ driver’s license, an in-depth background investigation, medical and psychological testing, drug screening, and successful completion of a Police Academy training course.

SOPD encourages anyone interested in pursuing a highly rewarding career in a progressive and diverse public safety organization to consider applying for the exam via the Civil Service Commission website:

Job Announcement:

2022 Law Enforcement Examination (LEE) Fact Sheet:

Per Civil Service Commission rules, all applications for the entry level examination must be completed on the CSC website by 2/28/2022.

In addition to Civil Service applicants, SOPD is also considering resumes from qualified applicants who have been New Jersey Police Training Commission certified in Basic Police Officer training, as per South Orange Village ordinance.

South Orange Police Department personnel are available to assist in answering general questions regarding the application process. Please contact them at 973 763 3000.”

SOPD Announces that Medicine Drop Box is Now Available

By South Orange PD

The South Orange Police Department announced this week that their medicine drop box has been replaced and is now fully operational.

Research shows that 70% of individuals who abuse prescription and/or over-the-counter medication get access to them from the medicine cabinet or household of a friend or family member. Raising awareness about prescription and over-the-counter medication abuse and building a safe and healthy community are the key goals of the SOPD and the CPC. Residents can properly dispose of any old or unused prescription and over-the-counter medication by dropping them off at the drop box located at the South Orange Police Headquarters.

The drop box is located in the front lobby of SOPD headquarters and is available to the public 24 hours a day 7 days a week. In order to dispose of the medication properly, prescription and over-the-counter medication can be left in the original container with the type of medication still visible. All other personal information should be removed.

The drop box is emptied periodically and the medication is then incinerated through a partnership with Covanta Energy located in Newark, NJ.

For more information, visit

Coat Drive Underway Sponsored by SOPD Union, SO Rescue Squad and CC&J

The South Orange Police SOA and PBA, in partnership with the South Orange Rescue Squad and the Community Care and Justice Program (CC&J), have organized a coat drive and are now accepting donations of coats from local residents at select locations.

These organizations began accepting donations on January 15th at the following locations and will continue to do so until January 27th:

  • South Orange Rescue Squad (62 Sloan St., South Orange)
  • South Orange Police Station Lobby (201 W S Orange Ave, South Orange)
  • Volunteers will also be located at the South Orange Train Station during the morning and evening rush hours to assist with the collection of donations

The distribution date for the coats will be January 27, 2022, from 4:00 – 6:00 pm at the South Orange Rescue Squad, 62 Sloan St., in South Orange (next to Fire Station).

If you have a coat (or coats) you would like to donate, please do so at the above locations! If you are in need of a coat and would like to receive one, please come to the Rescue Squad on January 27th. All are welcome.

A flyer with details is also attached below. Please spread the word!

Local PBA Partners with Parenting Center on Food Drive

By South Orange PD

The Acting Chief of the South Orange Police Department, Captain Stephen Dolinac, has issued an official Commendation to PBA Local 12 and President Chris Chery for their generous donation to the Parenting Center food drive.

As noted in the Commendation, it was written “to extend many thanks and deep appreciation for the generosity of the entire PBA” for their donation of 26 turkeys to help provide Thanksgiving meals to local families in need.

The food drive on November 20th was a community-wide effort to provide Thanksgiving meals to local families, as well as share food via the new Community Fridge & Pantry in Maplewood. Several members of the PBA, as well as some Board of Ed members and Village Trustees showed up for the event.

Members of the PBA who participated were (left to right in the photo) P/O Darrell Terry, P/O Jose Albino, Sgt. John NIedzinski, P/O John Pak, Det. Miguel Hunt, P/O (& PBA Pres.) Chris Chery, P/O Dylan O’Connor, P/O Travis Cooper, P/O Mike Pannullo, P/O Jim Nugent. Members of the BOE present were Thair Joshua (President) and Chris Sabin. BOT members included Bob Zuckerman and Summer Jones, as well as Village President Sheena Collum.

Captain Dolinac notes that “Under the leadership of PBA President Chris Chery you have started a great partnership in this community that you can build upon to help many more families. I hope that this is only the beginning of the great things that you as PBA members can accomplish when you come together to benefit others.”

The entire Commendation is posted below.

Social Work Outreach Team Starts Accepting Referrals from SOPD, Rescue Squad

By Community Care & Justice Program

The Outreach Team of the Community Care & Justice program officially began receiving referrals from the South Orange Police Department and Rescue Squad on Monday, October 18. 

The Community Care & Justice program was initiated by South Orange Village President Sheena Collum and is a collaboration between the South Orange community, Seton Hall University and Essex County. The initiative seeks to “reimagine” traditional models of law enforcement through the larger lens of public safety and wellness with a greater emphasis on crisis prevention. To that end, Community Care & Justice seeks to engage the whole community – residents, first responders and newly hired social work professionals – in a more proactive, preventative, and collective approach to mental health and wellness and public health and safety. The program is led by Trustee Donna Coallier, chair of the Village’s Health and Public Safety Committee, and Dr. Juan Rios, Director of Seton Hall University’s Master of Social Work program.

Starting October 18, the Community Care & Justice Outreach Team is providing supportive counseling and case management services to community members impacted by issues such as mental health, substance use, domestic violence, sexual assault, homelessness and elder concerns. 

Once a referral is received from Village first responders, the social work team will outreach to the individual and/or family, conduct an assessment, and connect them with various supportive services and resources within South Orange and, more broadly, Essex County and the state. 

“We’re extremely excited to get started on this aspect of our community outreach,” said Kristin Miller, a professor in the Social Work Department at Seton Hall University and director of Outreach and Community Wellness for the Community Care & Justice program. “In many instances the police and rescue squad are called upon to address issues that present as acute and emergent, but are in many ways deep-seated, systemic and long-term. Issues such as mental health, substance use, homelessness, sexual assault and domestic violence are often better served by addressing these matters in a way that gets to the root of the problem and offers care and resources for underlying issues, not just currently manifest symptoms.” She continued, “Social work training provides us with the knowledge and expertise to more effectively address certain issues in the community. Our team will infuse social work values into our service to community members; these values include social justice, the importance of human relationships and the dignity and worth of each person.” 

In addition to Kristin Miller, LCSW and Assistant Director of Community Care & Justice Megan O’Brien, MSW, the Outreach Team includes three social work interns: Christina May (New York University), Monica Doliscat (Rutgers) and Krystal Halim from Seton Hall University. 

“In many ways, October 18 marks another beginning for Community Care & Justice after months of planning, focus groups and community outreach for needs assessment,” said Coallier. “The first iteration of our Social Justice Certificate program began at Seton Hall a few weeks ago. That program brings members of the community and surrounding communities together with police officers and credible messengers ‘to learn from each other and empower its participants as stakeholders and changemakers in search of social justice and equity.’ So, although the Outreach Team will initially consist of two part-time social workers and three interns and can focus solely on referrals from first responders, we plan on ultimately expanding our Team and these services and will eventually accept referrals from other organizations as well as community members themselves.”

Community Care & Justice Liaisons in South Orange Police Department and Rescue Squad

The program has the support of the South Orange Police Department as well as the Rescue Squad. 

Rescue Squad
Among the rescue squad, four members have volunteered to function as liaisons to the Community Care & Justice program and will function as a key partner to the program through referrals and support.  

Chief Victor Rothstein and Deputy Chief Annie Carman of the South Orange Rescue Squad will function as primary points of contact and liaisons for the Community Care & Justice program.

“The Rescue Squad is very excited to be a part of this outreach,” said South Orange Rescue Squad Chief Victor Rothstein. “What EMS offers patients is essentially a bandaid fix in most cases, a stabilization of acute illness and injury until we can get the patient to a hospital. Although our EMTs are considered some of the most capable in the state, many times patients need long term assistance that we do not and cannot provide. In fact, frequently we get called to individuals who don’t actually need medical attention per se, but still need some form of professional help or access to resources. In these cases, the social workers that the CC&J program provides will make more of a difference than any ambulance or hospital could. We have been hoping for a program like this for a very long time and the Community Care & Justice Outreach Team is major progress in ensuring the residents of South Orange can survive – and thrive.” 

Police Department
Among the South Orange Police Department, four officers have volunteered to be liaisons to the Community Care & Justice program and are expected to be instrumental in aligning the department with the Outreach Team through referrals, support and, if need be, assistance.  

The police officers who have volunteered to work with the Community Care & Justice program are: Lieutenant Ernesto Morillo; Sergeant John Niedzinski; Sergeant Richard Lombardi; and Captain Stephen Dolinac, who is Acting Chief of Police in South Orange. 

“The South Orange Police Department is exceedingly pleased to be a part of this program, which gives us the opportunity to partner with social workers and other dedicated community members and truly improve the services we deliver in ways that go beyond traditional law enforcement,” said Captain Dolinac. “Perhaps not surprisingly, the research to date on policing in this manner shows real efficacy.

 Simply put, we’ll be addressing systemic problems experienced by members of the community with systemic solutions. And we believe there are real savings to be had through utilizing this approach – savings in lives, quality of life – and resources.” He continued, “Ultimately, we’d like to get to the point where we’re able to pinpoint need and bring resources to our residents before crisis, especially for our youth.” 

Lieutenant Ernesto Morillo agreed, “This is a new day in policing and South Orange is prepared to meet these challenges if not lead the way. The overwhelming majority of our calls are not about ‘fighting crime,’ but about responding to crisis and ensuring the well-being of our community members. I have great faith that my officers meet these challenges with courtesy, professionalism and a commitment to serve and protect. But in order to do this job correctly – to serve the public well being in the best way possible – we need to use all of the tools at our disposal – and committed social workers and community interventions can be a highly effective tool for delivering the hope, help and resources that people need. He continued, “If contact with police is limited to enforcement and addressing conflict, then many in the community will view police as an oppressive force and not as the providers of what most of our interactions actually deal with, which is community caretaking.  Of course, officers will address conflict and enforcement as required, but we must do more to engage the community in a positive way and cultivate the trust that our citizens should have in us to take care of our community together.” 

SOPD, CC&J, Seton Hall and Others Join with Allan Houston’s FISLL Program

(Photo credit Alia C. Covel)

By Alia C. Covel (reprinted from TAPinto article dated 10/16/21)

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — NBA legend Allan Houston brought The FISLL Project to Seton Hall University  on Tuesday to continue the success of his foundation’s nationwide mentoring program.

SHU is a partner in South Orange’s Community Care and Justice Program, along with Essex County, and will utilize the mentoring program with youth from South Orange and Newark in conjunction with officers from the South Orange Police Department and the Newark Police Department.

Village Trustee and Health and Safety Committee Chair Donna Coallier moderated a panel of police officials, educators and an SHU student to speak about the importance of the project.

“FISLL and Allan Houston’s organization are 100 percent aligned with the values that are driving our Community Care and Justice Program,” Coallier told TAPinto SOMA. “This is launching a curriculum where our people and people from the city of Newark are going to learn about value-based decision-making and how to work together and create strength from those values.”

“Our goal is to amplify young people’s voices,” said panelist Dennis Carter, executive director of the Allan Houston Legacy Foundation. When their stories and struggles are heard, he said, “that’s what’s really going to make a difference.”

Two-time NBA Allstar Houston explained that he created FISLL in 2003 after speaking with his father — who coached Allan in college — about wanting to work on a project together to answer the question “what is our larger responsibility” after having achieved success on the court.

On a plane ride, he wrote down the five values that would become the foundation of the FISLL program: Faith, Integrity, Sacrifice, Leadership and Legacy. The project’s website says the program “can provide a foundation that enables young people to reach their full potential. Through a mentoring initiative, hands-on workshops, and our digital platform, the FISLL Project engages youth in guided dialogue and structured activities designed to build trust, teach valuable life skills, enhance spiritual growth, and defined success.”

Dr. Jamila Davis, Community Practitioner in Residence at SHU, is working on a companion curriculum to the program. The panelist noted that choice is important for students in keeping their interest and buoying their self-esteem. The program helps match the student with what their passions are. “When they tap into their talent, they tap into their confidence,” said Davis.

Panelist Lt. Ernesto Morillo of the South Orange Police Department said that the program is “an approach we can create together.” Morillo is the local lead for the FISLL program. Ten youths and 10 officers have already been selected, half from South Orange and half from Newark, and the cohort will have six virtual sessions, then a closing session on Nov. 30.

He also thanked the SOPD officers who came to the event to show their support: Det. Miguel Hunt, Lt. Eric Moore, and Ofc. Darrell Terry, Jr., who all grew up in South Orange; and Ofc. Niko Nasisi, a SHU alumnus who was hired by the SOPD just after graduation in 2019.

Houston was asked what advice he would give to local FISLL participants. “Show up, listen, and look,” he said. Showing up and being there is the first step in achieving anything, he said. One must be an active listener to learn, and look beyond what at first you think is possible.