CONTACT: Sebastian D’Elia
Public Information Director



Public Safety Director Harold Gibson
tapped by County to head office

UNION COUNTY---With recent news headlines dominated by incidents of violence directed at or perpetrated by teenagers, Union County Sheriff Ralph Froehlich has announced the creation of a new office that will target juvenile crime issues and gang prevention. The new Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention will utilize existing Sheriff’s Offices and County Police resources and will begin on January 1st.

“As someone who has worked throughout a law enforcement career to go into classrooms and teach our children the right way, these are issues that are near and dear to my heart,” Sheriff Froehlich said. “Our children, their safety and their future, must be our highest priorities.”

Froehlich added he was “heartbroken” and “saddened” by a recent spate of local and national headlines involving shootings of teenagers, and gang-style violence.

“The time has come to focus on giving our young people better choices then joining gangs,” said Froehlich, who added that with the nation once again facing uncertain economic times and the region facing changing crime patterns among teenagers, the County must step forward and take the lead with a new department aimed at meeting these challenges.

Harold Gibson, who has more than 35 years of law enforcement experience as a cop and as the Director of Public Safety for the County of Union, has been chosen to lead the newly created Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Gang Reduction. Froehlich made the announcement in cooperation with the Board of Chosen Freeholders, the County Manager and the Union County Prosecutor.

“Director Gibson is a leader who I have immense respect for. He has the managerial and on-the-job experience as a cop on the street, as I do, to back him up,” Froehlich said. “He is a natural for this position.”

Gibson was grateful to be asked to lead the office.

“I thank Sheriff Froehlich, the County Manager and the Board of Chosen Freeholders for their confidence in asking me to serve the County in this exciting new position,” Gibson said. “This post marks a natural progression in my career, and offers me a full-time opportunity to focus on helping our youth realize their potential and make the right choices in life. This position also offers me the rewarding opportunity to share my life experiences with our children.”

Gibson, a resident of Plainfield, has 35 years of public safety experience, including the past ten years as Director of Public Safety for the County of Union. Froehlich added Gibson has accumulated a wealth of experience and knowledge in the areas of law enforcement, public safety and governmental administration throughout this time.

Gibson began his career in law enforcement with the Newark Police Department, where he dutifully served for over 25 years and retired as a Lieutenant.  He then served as the City Administrator for the City of Plainfield for 4 years before accepting the position of Deputy County Manager for the County of Union until 1995.  Gibson was then called upon to serve as Chief of County Investigators in the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, where he supervised all investigators, agents, and clerical and support staff to the Prosecutor.  From 1997 to the present Gibson served as the Director of Public Safety for the County of Union.  As the Director of Public Safety, he was responsible for coordinating the activities of all local emergency and law enforcement agencies in the County.

“While we will miss Harold as Director of Public Safety, we now face an important challenge: gang prevention, and helping our children, particularly our at risk-teenagers, to stay on the right road,” Freeholder Chairwoman Bette Jane Kowalski said. “Our children and teenagers are the heirs to our society, and we must do everything we can to prepare them for a safe and sound future.”

County Manager George W. Devanney agreed with Kowalski, and thanked Gibson for a “remarkable” decade of service as Public Safety Director, a period which saw improvements that included the creation of a state-of the art Public Safety building, extensive and unprecedented homeland security investments in Union County, and a steadily declining crime rate for most of the decade.

“Director Gibson has helped lead the County through a remarkable decade that witnessed declining crime rates and increased public safety service,” Devanney said. “He is the right man to lead the County into one of its greatest challenges in shaping the future of our youth.”

Gibson will now be responsible for prioritizing prevention programs to provide the county’s youth with opportunities that help them resist gang involvement by addressing the full range of personal, family and community factors contributing  to juvenile delinquency and gang activity.

Gibson will utilize the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Gang Reduction Program, which has several key concepts:

  1. Identify needs at the individual, family and community level and address those needs with a coordinated, comprehensive response.
  2. Inventory human and financial resources in the community and create plans to fill gaps and leverage existing resources to support effective gang reduction strategies
  3. Apply the best research based programs across appropriate age ranges, risk categories, and agency boundaries.
  4. Encourage coordination and integration both vertically (federal, state, local) and horizontally (across communities and program types).

The time has come to focus as much on prevention as punishment” stated Froehlich,  “and in Harold Gibson, we have the right person to lead the way."