The mission of the Union County Prosecutor’s Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy is to support victims and witnesses of crimes in Union County through information, advocacy and community outreach in order to help make their participation in the criminal justice system less difficult and burdensome.
The goal of victim witness advocates is to empower survivors of crime and the families of crime victims through supportive efforts to ensure that they are treated with dignity, compassion and respect in the aftermath of a crime.
The Union County Prosecutor’s Office could not function without the work of the many civilian employees who work in investigative, legal, and support units. While not sworn members of law enforcement, these critical members of our team further our mission of doing justice. They serve as property clerks, secretaries, and prosecutor’s agents. They work in grants management, personnel, purchasing, finance and accounting, fleet management, facilities, community outreach, and victim advocacy. They are responsible for crafting policy or training the future generations of officers. They assist case detectives and assistant prosecutors in preparing their cases for trial. They are often not noted by the public or the press when the Office has a victory, but they are instrumental in all that we do as an Agency.
The Union County Prosecutor’s Office Professional Standards Unit is committed to upholding the public trust by conducting unbiased and thorough internal affairs investigations of alleged police misconduct while ensuring all persons involved are treated with respect. It is in the best interest of everyone that a complaint about the performance of an individual law enforcement officer is resolved fairly and promptly. The Professional Standards Unit strives to ensure integrity in the law enforcement community by conducting impartial investigations that protect the rights of both citizens and law enforcement officers.
The Professional Standards Unit is responsible for investigating all internal affairs allegations against employees within the Union County Prosecutor’s Office. The Unit also oversees all internal affairs investigations from each of the county’s municipal police departments as well as the Union County Sheriff’s Department. Criminal complaints against a law enforcement officer will be investigated by members of the Professional Standards Unit or in conjunction with the municipal internal affairs officers. If a citizen’s complaint about a police officer does not rise to the level of a crime or there is insufficient evidence to prove a crime was committed, the complaint is referred back to the officer’s employer, the municipal police department, for an administrative investigation by the police department’s internal affairs unit. If a police officer is found by his or her employer to have violated a departmental policy or rule during the administrative investigation, then the employer may discipline the officer.
Any citizen wishing to file a complaint may do so by completing this complaint form and submitting it in person to the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.; or by emailing the Professional Standards Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org. Referrals can also be made by calling (908) 527-4500 and requesting to speak to a member of the Professional Standards Unit. Complaints may be made anonymously. Additional information is available here.
The Union County Prosecutor’s Office Forensic Laboratory, located at 300 North Avenue in downtown Westfield, is the facility at which physical, narcotics, and DNA evidence is housed, analyzed, and processed for the purposes of aiding criminal investigations in Union County.
The Laboratory was established in 1972 as the first county prosecutor’s lab in New Jersey. It received accreditation in the disciplines of Controlled Substances and Biology through the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB) in 2008.
The Technical Unit of the Forensic Laboratory is made up of two analytical sections: the Controlled Substances Section and the Biology Section. The Controlled Substances Section provides analysis of illicit drugs to support narcotics investigations and prosecutions. The Forensic Laboratory is designated by the State of New Jersey to certify drug analysis, and these certifications may be presented at trial in lieu of expert testimony. The Biology section includes DNA analysis, which provides law enforcement agencies with the establishment of human identification through DNA profiling.
The lab handles thousands of cases each year and has played an instrumental role in solving many high-profile cases, including “cold case” homicides.
The John H. Stamler Police Academy, located at 1776 Raritan Road in Scotch Plains, is the training ground at which recruits from police departments in Union County and surrounding counties receive training to serve as full-time police officers.
“Citizens call the police. The police call UCERT.”
UCERT is comprised of several dozen officers hand-selected to serve from among local police departments within Union County, as well as the Union County Sheriff’s Office, Union County Prosecutor’s Office, and Union County Police Department, all working under a regional command. The task force is divided into three unique teams: UCERT Civil Disorder, UCERT SWAT, and the New Jersey Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) Rapid Deployment Force (RDF).
The task force is made up of sworn officers of varying ranks, as well as trained paramedics, a doctor, an assistant prosecutor, and a psychiatrist. The task force also includes a crisis negotiation squad that specializes in UCERT SWAT callouts; members of that team are trained for high-level, intensive emergency response situations, and work with many outside municipal, county, state, and federal agencies responding to high-risk search and arrest warrants, critical infrastructure incidents, hostage situations, and barricaded suspects. The SWAT Unit historically has been deployed several dozen times annually, on average.
UCERT is a collaboration between the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, the Union County Police Chiefs’ Association, the Union County Sheriff’s Office, the Union County Department of Public Safety, and the Union County Police Department.