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South Orange is a Civil Service town and therefore we are guided by and follow Civil Service rules for hiring a South Orange police officer. Of the 565 municipalities in New Jersey 194 are governed by Civil Service.
For more information about the Civil Service Commission please visit: https://www.state.nj.us/csc/
The initial written Civil Service exam for an entry level position is open to any member of the public that is interested, however South Orange residents must be considered for employment prior to nonresidents. Potential applicants take a statewide written exam that is administered approximately every three years. When there is a need to hire a South Orange police officer, South Orange requests a hiring list from the State office. New Jersey Civil Service sends South Orange a list of potential applicants that have passed the Civil Service test and ranks them by score. South Orange has an ordinance that allows us to request potential applicants that live in South Orange first, and then when that list is exhausted we request a list of potential applicants from Essex County. There are many reasons why we may exhaust numerous hiring lists during the hiring process. For example, as time goes on from the initial test date potential applicants may have been disqualified in our process, become uninterested in the position, or may have been hired by another municipality.
Potential Candidates are subject to the following:
Once a candidate is selected, they are sent to the next available police academy for approximately 6 months of police academy training. There, police recruits receive extensive classroom room instruction covering such topics as: Criminal law, motor vehicle law, racially influenced policing, cultural diversity, and handling individuals with special needs. Police recruits also participate in hands-on training such as emergency vehicle operation, hand cuffing techniques, CPR certification, and firearms safety and proficiency. Police recruits also take-part in physical conditioning exercises.
When a police recruit satisfies all of the requirements that the police academy has set forth, the police recruit graduates and is now Police Training Commission (PTC) certified. The PTC falls under The New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice.
For more information about the PTC and academy training please visit: https://www.state.nj.us/lps/dcj/njptc/home.htm
Upon completion of the police academy the South Orange probationary police officer returns to the police department to complete two months of field training with a field training officer (FTO). The Field Training program is comprised of 8 phases of instruction with daily objectives and weekly milestones, which must all be reviewed by training officer(s) & direct line supervisors before moving onto the next phase. An FTO is a well-rounded seasoned police officer that has the shown the ability to impart their experience and knowledge on probationary police recruits and has completed a course of training to be a certified FTO. The South Orange probationary police officer rides in the same police vehicle as the FTO, shadowing the FTO during the two months. One of the many responsibilities of the FTO is to reinforce the training that the police recruit received in the classroom and apply it to gain practical experience during calls for service. The FTO also familiarizes the probationary police officer with rules and regulations that are specific to the South Orange Police Department. Each police recruit receives a copy of the South Orange Police Department’s Rules and Regulations. After successful completion of the two months in the field training program, the probationary police officer is now permitted to patrol in a police vehicle on their own.
From the graduation date from the police academy, for the duration of one full year, a South Orange Police academy graduate is considered a probationary police officer. During that probationary year the officer’s performance is regularly and formally evaluated by their immediate supervisors. At the conclusion of the one year, if the conduct or capacity of the probationary police officer has not been satisfactory, they will be notified in writing that they will not receive absolute employment and may be discharged from their position as a police officer in the South Orange Police Department
The South Orange Police Department is committed to the ongoing professional development of its officers to not only be in compliance with various training mandates from the New Jersey Attorney General and Essex County Prosecutor but also to foster and encourage its employees in a work environment where learning and growth are highly valued. SOPD uses a multidisciplinary approach thorough the use of general training provided by supervisory staff, off-site training provided by certified instructors, subject specific videos, reference materials, ongoing discussions during shift briefings, and scenario based exercises when scheduling and service demands permit.
The training a South Orange Police Officer receives during their career is mandated by the county prosecutor, the Attorney General, through various state or federal statutes/rules, and as determined by agency policy or the Chief of Police. The following Training, also known as in-service training, is required for a South Orange Police Officer:
South Orange Police Officers also receive training and attend courses to keep and maintain certain certifications pertaining to a specialized unit they may be a part of. For example, our traffic officers have attended crash courses which train them to reconstruct complex accident scenes and write detailed crash reports. Various train-the-trainer courses prepare our officers to teach the principles and application of radar, firearms use, and field training recent police academy graduates in SOPD-specific policy & procedures.
South Orange Police Officers may also be assigned to training courses that fit their individual assignments and skill sets. Assignment to such training is dependent on availability, scheduling, and budget. Such courses include but are not limited to: investigator/detective training at a basic level and for specialized subject areas (e.g. financial crimes or fingerprint analysis), search & seizure, case law updates, handling calls for service with people that have special needs or are in emotional crisis. SOPD has also committed to ensure that all newly promoted supervisors attend an extended course of instruction (30-40 hours) to ease the transition and ensure that they are able to effectively meet the challenge of their new roles and responsibilities.
Training also comes in the form of daily briefings known to police officers as “roll call.” During roll call, usually at the start of an officer’s shift, supervisors may update officers on new and amended case law or statutes, policies, procedures, local activity (both criminal and non-criminal), officer safety bulletins, daily work assignments, and other items of professional interest. They provide instruction, answer questions, and receive feedback. Supervisors may also review videos involving police interactions with the public that can be used as an educational tool.
At the South Orange Police Department, officers are given the opportunity and encouraged to attend courses that would aid in their professional development as a South Orange Police Officer.
Chief Kyle Kroll needed a way to convey the ideals and principles that characterize and guide each South Orange Police Officer in a manner that would be rapid, memorable, and motivating. Chief Kroll devised the acronym, P.R.O.U.D:
The South Orange Police Department is a dynamic, full-service police organization committed to providing the highest level of service and protection to South Orange Village. Each of our police professionals is dedicated to making a positive difference in the community. At the forefront of our efforts is our philosophy of community policing and citizen safety. We practice community-based policing and value partnerships with citizens, businesses, and community organizations.
Currently, South Orange Police Officers do not use body worn cameras. Several years ago the Department investigated acquiring them, but due to budgetary constraints the decision was made to delay that purchase. At that time, and currently, the State of New Jersey mandated that Mobile Digital Video Recorders (the in-car camera systems) be installed in all marked police vehicles. Body cameras were not required equipment and the State currently allows localities to determine if they will use them. Purchasing both systems would have required major investment in the initial equipment purchase as well as ongoing maintenance and data storage costs. Using the limited resources available the choice was made to modernize and fully replace the MDVR system. Township and Department administration are currently investigating the purchase and implementation of a body camera system.
Each marked patrol vehicle is equipped with two forward facing cameras and one rear facing cameras, known as MDVR’s (mobile digital video recorders). South Orange Police Officers utilize a rechargeable microphone that officers wear on their person to capture sound. The vehicle camera system can be activated one of two ways. The first way of activating the camera system is by turning on a vehicle’s emergency lights. The second way a camera system can be activated is by an officer manually turning on the system. A South Orange Police Officer is required to record the following police actions:
A South Orange Police Officer shall not cease recording an incident at the request of any person or entity other than a police supervisor. A supervisor must have an objectively reasonable justification to direct the cessation of recording. All MDVR recordings may be reviewed and are stored and retained according to state-wide standards directed by the NJ Attorney General.
The primary function of the Internal Affairs Unit at the South Orange Police Department is to receive, review, investigate, and resolve all allegations of misconduct that originate with members of the community or are generated by supervisors, officers, or employees of a law enforcement agency. Misconduct could include commission of a crime or an offense, violation of departmental rules and regulations, violation of New Jersey Civil Service statutes, and or conduct which adversely reflects upon the officer or the South Orange Police Department.
The South Orange Police Department is committed to a robust internal affairs process and as such will accept complaints from those that wish to remain anonymous. Complaints may be taken by any police officer 24 hours a day. While we encourage the public to make complaints in person with a police supervisor, no one will be told to come back and make a complaint at a different time due to a supervisor not being immediately present. The Department will also accept complaints via other means including but not limited to telephone, email, regular mail, etc.
All complaints that the Internal Affairs Unit receives that are criminal in nature are forwarded to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office (ECPO) for review. The ECPO conducts a review and determines if it should pursue a criminal investigation. A criminal investigation may result in criminal charges, determined according to the criteria of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. If the ECPO proposes criminal charges they will be the lead agency for the matter until its conclusion in court. A disposition that does not involve a finding of guilt by the courts or where a complaint is dismissed by a municipal or county prosecutor means the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt has not been met.
The county prosecutor will then return the matter back to the Internal Affairs Unit at South Orange Police Department for investigation into any alleged administrative (Department rules, Civil Service rules, ECPO/NJ Attorney General directives) violations. The purpose of the investigation being to determine whether or not evidence exists or can be developed that meets the preponderance of evidence burden of proof in an administrative hearing. At no time shall an internal affairs administrative investigation be closed simply because a criminal investigation was declined or terminated.
The following are possible dispositions of an administrative investigation:
A complainant will be advised of the outcome of an internal affairs investigation if they have chosen to identify themselves.
During an administrative hearing, if the hearing officer sustains the charges against a South Orange Police Officer, the South Orange Police Officer is subject to the following progressive discipline:
As is the case with all individuals, both the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and the South Orange Police Department are committed to the strict observance of a person’s constitutional and due process rights during both the criminal and internal affairs process.
In addition, South Orange Police Officers have a duty to report to Internal Affairs and Chief of Police, certain matters they are involved in or have a reasonable belief that another employee may have committed. These include:
Internal Affairs prepares and submit regular reports regarding ongoing and completed investigations to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office - Professional Standards Bureau, which oversees all Internal Affairs units in the County. In addition, per Attorney General policy, Internal Affairs publishes an annual summary report available to the public which provides a synopsis of the types of complaints and their dispositions.
The South Orange Police Department has implemented an early warning system designed to detect patterns and trends in police conduct before that conduct escalates. This early warning system can assist the South Orange Police Department in identifying and remediating problematic officer conduct that poses a potential risk to the public, to the South Orange Police Department, and to the officer. The following are performance indicators contained in the early warning system:
Once an officer has displayed the performance indicators necessary to trigger the early warning system, assigned supervisory personnel shall initiate remedial action to address the officer’s behavior. The following remedial/corrective action may include but is not limited to:
Yes all persons who wish to file a complaint against a South Orange Police Officer may do so any hour or day of the week. This includes reports from anonymous sources, juveniles, undocumented immigrants, and persons under arrest or in custody. At no time will a complainant be told to return at a later date to file a report. A complaint can be submitted in person, over the phone, or electronic correspondence (e.g. Email).
Yes, the South Orange Police Department has recently revised its Use of Force policy, which in addition to being compliant with the current Attorney General’s Guideline on Use of Force, has explicitly stated the following:
The Attorney General has stated his intention to publish a comprehensive, state-wide revision to the Use of Force policy by the end of 2020; however, we believe that the mission of the South Orange Police Department required us to revise our policy as soon as it was feasible. These revisions were made to provide all those authorized to use force with as much clear, direct, and explicit guidance as possible on their expectations and responsibilities under our current operating parameters.
Additionally, per long-standing state law, and unlike many other states, the New Jersey Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer in the state and has the responsibility and broad authority to secure the benefits of a uniform and efficient enforcement of the criminal law and administration of the criminal justice system. As such the Attorney General routinely issues statewide policy documents known as “law enforcement directives,” which require compliance and are binding on all law enforcement agencies and all 36,000 state, county, and local law enforcement officers.
The Attorney General then delegates the authority of the Office to the County Prosecutors, who are the chief law enforcement officers in each of New Jersey’s 21 counties. The Essex County Prosecutor is responsible for direction, control, and oversight of all law enforcement agencies in Essex County. The South Orange Police Department is accountable to the County Prosecutor for compliance with the Attorney General’s Directives as well as any subsequent orders from the County Prosecutor’s Office.
For additional information from the Attorney General’s Excellence in Policing Initiative, please visit: https://www.nj.gov/oag/excellence/
For additional information on the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, please visit: http://www.njecpo.org/
Yes, being able to verbally de-escalate a situation encompasses a multitude of factors. While training at the police academy, South Orange Police Officers receive instruction in: Basics of Community Oriented Policing, Law Enforcement Responsibility to Provide Community Service, Awareness of Emotional Reactions, Cultural Diversity, Crisis Intervention, Handling Individuals with Special Needs, Problem Solving, Racially Influenced Policing, Alcoholism as a Disease, and Handling Intoxicated individuals. Immediately on graduation the new officer is assigned to a Field Training Officer to undergo a formal seven week (minimum) course of familiarization and on-the-job instruction in the specifics of the South Orange Police Department policy, procedures, and methodology. Such instruction includes practical experience de-escalating a variety of situations. Recently the South Orange Police Department has hired outside experts to provide training for our supervisory staff in both de-escalation and lawful/unlawful application behind use of force.
It should be noted that because of the unique, rapidly developing, and unpredictable circumstances sometimes presented to officers, not every call for service affords the responding officer(s) the opportunity to de-escalate a situation.
Under no circumstances is a South Orange Police Officer permitted to use excessive force. Per agency policy and the New Jersey Attorney General Guidelines on Use of Force: “In determining to use force, the law enforcement officer shall be guided by the principle that the degree of force employed in any situation should be only that which is reasonably necessary. Law enforcement officers should exhaust all other reasonable means before resorting to the use of force. Law enforcement officers will use only that force which is objectively reasonable and necessary.”
The application of force that is objectively reasonable and necessary is the current national legal standard on use of force which has been determined by the Supreme Court of the United States in their decisions rendered in such cases as: Tennessee v. Garner (1985), Graham v. Connor (1989), and White v. Pauley (2017). In addition, SOPD as well as all New Jersey law enforcement agencies and officers are also bound by the New Jersey State Constitution and legal precedents determined by our State Supreme Court that may impose additional requirements or restrictions on the Use of Force.
Per agency policy and the New Jersey Attorney General Guidelines on Use of Force: “An officer shall not fire from a moving vehicle or at the driver or occupant of a moving vehicle unless the officer reasonably believes there exists an imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm to the officer or another person AND no other means at that time are available to avert or eliminate that danger. A law enforcement officer shall not fire a weapon solely to disable moving vehicles.”
Yes. Per agency policy and the New Jersey Attorney General Guidelines on Use of Force: Every law enforcement officer is expected and required to take appropriate action to stop and/or prevent a use of force in any situation where that officer is clearly convinced that another officer is about to use or using force in violation of state law. Law enforcement officers are obligated to report all situations in which force is used illegally by anyone.
Yes. Per agency policy and the New Jersey Attorney General Guidelines on Use of Force: In all instances when physical, mechanical or deadly force is used, each officer who has employed such force shall complete:
A Use of Force Report a standard report used State-wide and is completed whenever a police officer uses physical, mechanical, or deadly force. This report requires each officer that used force to document in detail the subject’s actions, type of force used, how it was used, if any injuries were sustained, any medical treatment sought, and a narrative that articulates the circumstances of the use of force.
The Attorney General has recently expanded and revised the Use of Force report is currently piloting an online reporting system in which completed reports are submitted directly to the AG’s office.
A complaint of excessive force would be classified as an internal affairs complaint and the South Orange Police Department would follow our local and the Attorney General’s policies for that process
Per agency policy and the Attorney General Guidelines on Use of Force, “Sound judgment and the appropriate exercise of discretion will always be the foundation of police officer decision-making in the broad range of possible use of force situations. It is not possible to entirely replace judgment and discretion with detailed policy provisions.” The following Use of Force options are available to a South Orange Police Officer:
Deadly force may only be used when the officer reasonably believes that such action is immediately necessary to protect the officer or another person from imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm.
A South Orange Police Officer is under no obligation to retreat or desist when resistance is encountered or threatened. However, a law enforcement officer shall not resort to the use of deadly force if the officer reasonably believes that an alternative to the use of deadly force will avert or eliminate an imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm, and achieve the enforcement purpose at no increased risk to the officer or another person.
The South Orange Police Department does not authorize, equip, train, or use the following means/methods of Force: tear gas (CN/CS), distraction (flash-bang) devices, canine (K9), conducted energy devices (Taser), less lethal force (rubber or bean bag bullets), chokeholds/strangleholds/carotid restraints.
Per agency policy and the Attorney General Guidelines on Use of Force: “A law enforcement officer may use physical force or mechanical force when the officer reasonably believes it is immediately necessary at the time:
Per agency policy and the Attorney General Guidelines on the Use of Force: “A law enforcement officer may use deadly force when the officer reasonably believes such action is immediately necessary to protect the officer or another person from imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm. A law enforcement officer may use deadly force to prevent the escape of a fleeing suspect:
If feasible, a law enforcement officer should identify himself/herself and state his/her intention to shoot before using a firearm.”
Per agency policy and the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office guidance on Use of Force: “Choke holds, carotid artery neck restraints and similar tactics constitute deadly force. The South Orange Police Department does not train its officers in these methods or tactics and they are not authorized except in very limited situations when deadly force is necessary to address an imminent threat to life.”
Yes, officers at the South Orange Police Department are trained to provide basic first aid and lifesaving measures such as: administering CPR, controlling bleeding, and utilizing Narcan (naloxone, an opioid overdose emergency intervention) kits, and rapid summoning of more advanced medical assistance/transport.
The following addresses the eight procedural reforms of the “8 Can’t Wait” campaign:
The following Use of Force options are available to South Orange police Officers:
Constructive Authority - Constructive authority does not involve actual physical contact with the subject, but involves the use of the law enforcement officer’s authority to exert control over a subject. Examples include verbal commands, gestures, warnings, and un-holstering a weapon. Pointing a firearm at a subject is an element of constructive authority to be used only in appropriate situations.
Physical Contact - Physical contact involves routine or procedural contact with a subject necessary to effectively accomplish a legitimate law enforcement objective. Examples include guiding a subject into a police vehicle, holding the subject’s arm while transporting, handcuffing a subject and maneuvering or securing a subject for a frisk.
Physical Force - Physical force involves contact with a subject beyond that which is generally utilized to affect an arrest or other law enforcement objective. Physical force is employed when necessary to overcome a subject’s physical resistance to the exertion of the law enforcement officer’s authority, or to protect persons or property. Examples include wrestling a resisting subject to the ground, using wrist locks or arm locks, striking with the hands or feet, or other similar methods of hand-to-hand confrontation.
Mechanical Force - Mechanical force involves the use of some device or substance, other than a firearm, to overcome a subject’s resistance to the exertion of the law enforcement officer’s authority. Examples include the use of a baton or other object, natural agent spraying (e.g. pepper spray)
Deadly Force - Deadly force is force which a law enforcement officer uses with the purpose of causing, or which the officer knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily harm. Purposely firing a firearm in the direction of another person or at a vehicle, building or structure in which another person is believed to be constitutes deadly force. A threat to cause death or serious bodily harm, by the production of a weapon or otherwise, so long as the officer’s purpose is limited to creating an apprehension that deadly force will be used if necessary, does not constitute deadly force.
The South Orange Police Department does not authorize, equip, train, or use the following means/methods of Force: tear gas (CN/CS), distraction (flashbang) devices, canine (K9), conducted energy devices (Taser), less lethal force (rubber or bean bag bullets), chokeholds/strangleholds/carotid restraints.
Yes. Per agency policy and Attorney General Guidelines, the South Orange Police Department is able to utilize several options based on the severity of the offense. The ultimate goal is to prevent further offenses by the juvenile and divert them from the adult criminal justice system. One approach is known as, “curb-side-adjustment.” A curb-side-adjustment is employed when a juvenile offender has committed a low level offense (e.g. shoplifting a candy bar). On scene, an officer contacts a parent or guardian of the juvenile offender, has them respond to scene of the incident and take custody of their child.
For more serious offenses where the juvenile is taken in to custody, the Juvenile Aid Bureau (detectives within SOPD) may utilize a “station-house adjustment.” During a station-house adjustment charges are not immediately filed against the juvenile. The station-house adjustment is an agreement between the police, the victim, the juvenile, and the parent. For example, the agreement may have the juvenile perform community service in lieu of having the charges filed. These programs redirect juveniles out of the criminal justice system while still holding them accountable for their actions.
In cases where a juvenile has committed a serious offense, which would be considered to be felony crimes were they committed by an adult (e.g. robbery), the South Orange Police Department is required to forward the matter to the Essex County Court system for handling.
In the past SOPD had several trained DARE officers that were invited to teach that curriculum in local schools. We no longer have DARE officers as that program was phased out in 2011. We currently have one officer that was trained in LEAD in 2016 however they have never taught that curriculum to any district students. SOPD does not employ nor does the school district use School Resource Officers or Class III Special Law Enforcement Officers.
The most recent involvement that SOPD has had with students in the schools has been through the after school YouthNet program. In 2019 students were given an opportunity to voluntarily participate in an “open gym” with several officers where they would play basketball together. The officers reported that the program was well-received and became popular with the students that chose to participate. There were then plans to offer another voluntary YouthNet program on the basics of Forensic Science & Investigation, which was chosen as students had expressed interest in the subject.
No, however South Orange has also established a Community Police Collaborative (“CPC”) in which members of the public are involved with reviewing data, participating in open dialogue with law enforcement and elected officials, developing community outreach strategies, and evaluating training modules & professional development for our officers. The CPC is an official organization with the local elected body, the Board of Trustees, and falls under the oversight of the Health and Public Safety Committee. The CPC meets on a monthly basis and the Chief of Police and/or other supervisors on the command staff along with one or more of the Trustees on the Health and Public Safety Committee meet with the CPC to discuss issues of interest. The Village President and Township Administrator may also attend at their discretion. The Chairperson of the CPC and other voting members are required to be South Orange residents. Members and officers are appointed by the Trustees.
The South Orange Police Department is the 911 call center for this Township. As such, all 911 emergency calls are answered at Police Headquarters and routed as appropriate. As first responders, SOPD officers will almost always be the first public safety official on the scene of any call for service. The fire department and ambulance service will be dispatched to respond when their services are needed.
South Orange Police Officers respond to a wide variety of calls for service. The main divisions of the Department are: Patrol, Investigations, and Administration.
Some of the more common calls for service that uniformed Patrol officers respond to are:
When not directly responding to calls for service, uniformed officers perform traffic related initiatives and proactive patrol in order to provide a highly visible presence throughout the Township. In addition officers use directed patrols to provide greater intensity for longer duration to areas in which numerous complaints have been received.
Officers assigned to the Investigative division (also known as the Detective Bureau) perform a variety of functions, primarily of which are the follow up investigations of criminal activity reported to the Patrol division. The purpose of these investigations are to identify, locate, arrest, charge, and provide sufficient evidence to the Municipal or County Prosecutor to sustain convictions in Court.
The Administrative division is responsible for providing the logistical framework and support services required to maintain the functions of the Department, which include but are not limited to:
One of the resources South Orange provides to reduce the number of calls to the police department is: S.O. Connect. It is an online complaint reporting system where the user directs the type of complaint they have to the appropriate Township department. This system has allowed residents to directly bring their concern on non-law enforcement matters to those that have the ability to best assist them. When we do receive calls on such matters we do our best to assist if can, give advice, and route the inquiries appropriately.
As always, with any emergency in which a person’s safety is jeopardized, rapidly calling 9-1-1, requesting help, and accurately communicating the circumstances is strongly encouraged. This allows us to respond quickly, mitigate harm to victims, and save lives.
Yes, based on the 2010 census The Township of South Orange Village is approximately 60% white and 40% people of color. The racial makeup of the South Orange police Department is 53% white and 47% people of color. Since 2015 eleven of the eighteen new South Orange Police Officers have been people of color.
Police reports are generally available in two to three business days from when the report was taken. Police reports may be obtained in person at the records bureau which is located in the front lobby area of the South Orange Police Department or arrangements may be made with the Records Bureau for alternate means of delivery.
South Orange Police Department
201 South Orange Avenue
South Orange, NJ 07079
Records Bureau Hours of Operation: *Federal Holidays Observed*
Please visit the following link for guidance on obtaining a firearms purchaser ID card and/or a handgun permit: https://www.southorange.org/217/Firearms-Applicants
Visit our South Orange Village Digital Video System information page.