The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office leads and participates in programs such as the Law Enforcement Narcan Program and Tina’s House, and supports the efforts of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Child ID Program, Project Lifesaver, and the Child Safety Seat Program. To learn more, please scroll down.
Mental Health Diversion Program
The Ocean County Prosecutors Office Mental Health Diversion Program (hereinafter referred to as the MHDP) began September 11, 2014. This diversionary program for justice-involved individuals suffering from serious and persistent mental illness was originally funded through a grant from the Office of the Attorney General for the State of New Jersey. Utilizing the teamwork of skilled clinicians and case managers, the MHDP ensures that defendants are receiving the treatment that they need in order to lead productive lives outside of the criminal justice system. Clinical and case management services are obtained through Ocean Mental Health Services and Preferred Behavioral Health. The Diversion Team, which consists of the members of our Unit and the providers, meets once a month to review all of our current and pending applicants. The Team is also in constant communication, receiving weekly updates on all applicants. The mission of the MHDP is to reduce recidivism and to ensure public safety when it comes to defendants with underlying mental health concerns. Defendants who successfully complete recommended treatment modules receive a downgrade or dismissal of their charges. After individuals complete the program they are followed for a year to monitor for recidivism.
Veterans Diversion Program (Pre & Post Arrest)
The Ocean County Prosecutors Office Veterans Diversion Program (hereinafter referred to as the VDP) accepted its first three candidates March 8, 2016. The VDP was created in response to the unmet needs of defendants with veteran status who were participants in the MHDP. It was determined that these individuals needed specialized treatment and supervision tailored to their military backgrounds. Defendants that are identified and verified as having veteran status are legally cleared by the program director then clinically evaluated to participate in the program. Participants should be county residents and be willing and able to engage in drug and/ or mental health treatment. Ocean Mental Health Services, as well as the VA provide evaluations, treatment and services for the VDP. Like the MHDP, we are in constant communication with Ocean Mental Health regarding the current and pending participants in the program. Defendants who successfully complete recommended treatment modules will receive a downgrade or dismissal of their charges. Veterans in the VDP are also assigned at least one volunteer veteran mentor to monitor their progress and to provide peer support for the length of the program. Similar to the MHDP, the individuals who completed are tracked for one year to monitor for recidivism.
Our Unit also began a new Veteran Pre-Arrest Program in collaboration with Ocean Mental Health Services (Phoenix Program). The goal is to engage veterans with treatment before they enter the criminal justice system, in an effort to prevent their involvement all together. If officers encounter a veteran who they feel could benefit from services, they will refer the veteran to Ocean Mental Health Services. If officers encounter the veteran for a criminal reason, they will contact the SOU and an Assistant Prosecutor will decide whether to charge the individual or not. If the individual is not charged, the veteran will have to engage in treatment and failure to comply will result in the veteran being charged. If the officers encounter a veteran and do charge, they will be referred for our Veteran Diversion Program (which is a post-arrest program).
Drug Court Program
The Drug Court Program allows individuals who are charged with non-violent criminal offenses to serve a sentence of intensive probation with drug and/or alcohol treatment (sometimes inpatient) rather than a jail term.
Drug Court seeks to reduce drug and/or alcohol addiction, as well as crime and recidivism, by providing intensive supervision, treatment and judicial oversight for its participants. The Drug Court Program is made up of a Judge, an Assistant Prosecutor, a Public Defender, a Coordinator, a Team Leader, and Probation Officers.
Probation Supervision works closely with treatment providers to strictly monitor each participant’s progress. The participant’s progress is reviewed by a judge during in-court sessions with adjustments made for both satisfactory and unsatisfactory behavior.
The State takes part in all aspects of the operation of Drug Court. An Assistant Prosecutor, after receiving extensive specialized training, is responsible for the initial screening of applicants for program eligibility.
Inquiries to apply for Drug Court must be made through a Defense Attorney.
Operation Helping Hand
OCPO created Ocean County Helping Hand (hereinafter referred to as OCHH) utilizing grant funding from the Office of the Attorney General via Operation Helping Hand. One of the many goals of this initiative is to link individuals with substance abuse issues and their families to appropriate treatment plans utilizing a multifaceted approach. OCHH is tasked to provide eligible municipal court defendants with the opportunity to take part in immediate addiction treatment services rather than continue with traditional prosecution of pending municipal court charges. OCHH is currently operating programming out of Toms River Municipal Court, formally named the Trident Program.
Additionally, the First Step Program (FSP) matches individuals that have overdosed with immediate peer support, guidance and recovery opportunities. FSP acknowledges that the first step in engaging in or seeking treatment is often the most difficult. Utilizing a community based mental health agency, in coordination with Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office staff and/or municipal police officers, the FSP responds to overdose victims identified by designated police departments. The FSP then provides them with an introduction to a certified recovery specialist, as well as access and/ or referrals to clinicians for evaluation and treatment of substance use concerns. The FSP also recognizes that many drug overdoses are fatal. To this end, the FSP provides linkage to immediate peer support, guidance and recovery opportunities for surviving family members of overdose victims as well. The first step of seeking help for substance use disorder is often the most difficult and the First Step Program is here to take that step with individuals in our community.
Another component of OCHH is the Community Outreach, Training and Education Program (COTE) with the purpose to educate the public on substance use disorder and to perform local outreach to ensure that early intervention is available to individuals who have not been linked with services. COTE staff members attend community events in an attempt to identify those in need of addiction services and provide education on such services to these individuals and their family members and/ or loved ones. The COTE Program also has a mobile support vehicle that provides a discreet environment for individuals to be assessed and quickly linked with care. In addition to educating the public, COTE also provides continuing education opportunities for treatment providers in our community to promote the proper identification, assessment and treatment of individuals with substance use disorder. The COTE Program seeks to ensure that individuals in the throes of addiction who want help are aware of how, when and where they can receive it. With community outreach, training and education, we can battle addiction together.
In December of 2019 and March of 2020, the SOU held a Train the Trainer program at the Ocean County Prosecutors Office which resulted in the creation of approximately 50 resiliency trainers that will be tasked with educating sworn law enforcement officers throughout the county. There are approximately 40 resiliency trainings scheduled during 2021 to fulfill our training mandate.
Questions regarding the Special Offenders Unit, its diversionary, outreach or training initiatives, should be directed to:
Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Renee T. White at Ext. 7914
The Law Enforcement Narcan Initiative is one of the many efforts of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. Significant efforts have been directed toward the enforcement of existing drug laws, the education of our youth, and increasing the public’s awareness of the need for more rehabilitation facilities and changes to the existing drug laws.
On May 2, 2013, Governor Chris Christie signed the Overdose Prevention Act (PL 2013 c.46). The purpose of the Overdose Prevention Act is to encourage individuals to seek immediate medical assistance when a drug overdose occurs and gives immunity from liability for certain prescribers and dispensers.
What is Narcan?
Narcan is designated for the emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdose, as manifested by respiratory and/or central nervous system depression. It is intended for immediate administration as emergency therapy in settings where opioids may be present, and is not a substitute for emergency medical care.
Narcan is delivered much like a nasal spray. Once administered, Narcan works to stop the effects of an opiate overdose. It is important to note that although Narcan works effectively nearly immediately, it is imperative that an individual seek medical attention right away. Narcan can have significant side effects just like any other medication. A common misconception about Narcan is that it removes the opioids interaction entirely from the body. Opioids remain in the body after Narcan is administered. Often, the opioid drug’s life in an individual’s body is longer than the duration of Narcan. It is possible for an individual to have an overdose after Narcan is administered and subsequently wears off — even if no additional drugs were taken.
Working with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Health, Ocean County was used as the trial for the Law Enforcement Narcan Program. Since April 2014, the County’s law enforcement agencies have been equipped with Narcan Kits and paid for by our forfeiture funds.
“Tina’s House” incorporates the Ocean County Child Advocacy Center and is accredited by the National Children’s Alliance. This child friendly facility enhances the intervention, investigation and prosecution of cases through a multi-disciplinary team (“MDT”) approach. The MDT includes dedicated professionals from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, Division of Child Protection and Permanency, St. Francis Counseling Center, and Dorothy B. Hersh Regional Child Protection Center who share common goals of preventing, detecting and prosecuting crimes against children. Community support is an integral part of the philosophy. “Tina’s House” is dedicated in the memory of Detective Tina Rambo.
Our Office supports the efforts and programs of many of our partners. Some of those include the following:
Project Lifesaver is a 501 (C)(3) community based, public safety, non-profit organization that provides law enforcement, fire/rescue, and caregivers with a program designed to protect, and when necessary, quickly locate individuals with cognitive disorders who are prone to the life threatening behavior of wandering.
For more information on Ocean Counties Project Lifesaver Program please Click Here
or visit the organization page : https://projectlifesaver.org/
Through the cooperative efforts of the Ocean County Commission on Exploited and Missing Children and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office – Special Projects Unit, child ID cards are provided at no cost to the parents and/or caregivers of children 12 years of age and younger. The child ID card is a laminated, wallet-sized card containing a current photograph and fingerprints taken by the Special Projects Unit and current information given by the parent/caregiver of the child. The card can be kept with the parents and/or caregivers to use as an identification tool in case of an emergent situation involving the child.
For more information please Click Here
The Ocean County Sheriff’s Office collaborated with local municipal police departments. Their team of Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians provide parents and caregivers with a one-on-one tutorial demonstration including the proper installation and instructional use of your specific child safety seat(s). For more information, please Click Here