Juvenile Division
Detective Lieutenant Thomas Rinaldi

       
               
   


The Clifton Police Department Juvenile Division is a component of the Investigations Bureau which also comprises the adult Detective Bureau and the Narcotics Division. The Juvenile Division is headed by a Detective Lieutenant (Division Commander and head of both the Internal Affairs Unit and SWAT team) and one Detective Sergeant who also serves as the Regional Coordinator for Domestic Violence. There are eight detectives assigned to the division as well as two detectives assigned to special investigations/Internal Affairs which includes a highly trained Polygraph Operator. A civilian clerk-typist is also assigned to this division.

Coverage for all investigations, criminal or otherwise concerning the welfare of minors is provided on a 24-hours basis with two-eight hour shifts being manned per day as well as a continuous on-call status for all investigators during non-working hours, 7-days a week.

The Juvenile Division is based on a theory of "Prevention." Detectives in this division have received specialized training, unlike that of any other detectives/officers. Juvenile Detectives are trained to recognize minor problems which allows for corrective action to be initiated at an early stage, enabling resolution of a situation prior to escalation. Areas of such training include sophisticated schooling in sexual assault/child abuse as well as a host of other elaborate training schools and methods. Training schools/seminars and conferences are always offered and are available year-round with an emphasis on always maintaining a high-level of training to keep up with the ever-changing needs of the modern Police Officer. With this training, families and juveniles are counseled, referrals are made to appropriate agencies and the division maintains its proactive involvement with the community.

The division conducts presentations, lectures and tours which are provided throughout the year to civic associations, Parent/Teacher Associations, school children and youth groups. Members of the Juvenile Division assist in the administration of such programs as student fingerprinting, "Safety Town Bicycle Registration Program, "Safety Fair," and "Career Day."

This division continues to have an excellent relationship with school administrators and students, alike, both within the public and parochial school systems. Our present relationship is fostered by the commitment of the Police Department to the "School Resource Officer Program." This program consists of three full-time uniformed Officers stationed within Clifton High School and one uniformed officer in each of the two Middle Schools. All Resource Officers have responsibilities within all of the schools, both public and parochial. These Officers are deployed to maintain order and to assist in any law enforcement needs in the schools, as "first responders."

Once an incident occurs which requires a furtherance or specialized need, school resource officers turn the matter over to Juvenile Division detectives for follow up. Detectives in this division also have developed a very close working relationship with school administrators which factors into the coordination of resources for many events such as investigations of school related criminal offenses, assistance in large group activities such as school graduation planning and deployment and civil and emergency planning, evacuation and Police responses.

 

DIVISION RESPONSIBILITIES

1. Preventive Counseling and Guidance for children.

This area includes conferences with juveniles and their parents for minor offenses, prevention of incidents and guidance in being a responsible member of the community.

2. Missing/Runaway Investigations.
This is an area of particular importance with a priority status.

3. Referrals-DYFS, Family Crisis Intervention Unit and Schools.
A close relationship is maintained with DYFS, FCIU and the Board of Education in assuring the safety and welfare of the children.

4. Investigations involving Child Endangerment. This may include sexual assaults, kidnapping, abuse and neglect cases and unattended children. A close relationship is also maintained with the Prosecutors Office for investigations of these matters.

5. Enforcement of NJ Law Titles 2A, 2C, 9 and 39.

6. Detectives also have training/responsibilities in such fields as computer/internet investigation, fraud, fire/arson investigation, hostage negotiation, narcotics investigation and gang monitoring/suppression and are often called upon for these and other specialized investigations.

7. Criminal Investigations of any nature, whether that of Juvenile or Adult concern.

Prevention and rehabilitation continue to be stressed, with the detectives of the Juvenile Division being fully cognizant of the fact that they are first, Police Officers. Members of this division are continually trained and re-trained. They are capable, qualified and dedicated individuals, willing to help in any situation which arises.

Intelligence is shared with other members of the Investigations Bureau, Field Operations Bureau and the Community Policing Division. We work very closely with all divisions in order to target on-going offenses such as theft, graffiti, gang activity and criminal mischief. Repetitive offenders are monitored and pursued in a more aggressive approach, criminal petitions are signed and in extreme cases, offenders are committed to the Juvenile Detention facility. Only Juvenile detectives are trained in the preparation of juvenile petitions which charge juveniles with offenses and crimes as well as the preparation of cases for the juvenile court system. They also have the dual responsibility of preparing adult court complaints when a particular incident arises.

"Caseload Management" and "Administrative Assessment" continue to be utilized within the Juvenile Division. Investigations are assessed and assigned based on immediate priority. The cases are monitored and reviewed individually, thus allowing the supervisor to follow all on-going investigations and determine existing crime patterns. This system of management has continued to produce positive results in the divisionís overall annual clearance rate for the year.

The"Missing Child Alert System" continues to be an asset to the department. This system is administered by the New State Police and is operated by the Juvenile Division Detectives. A partnership, forged between law enforcement and the community groups, enables us to electronically distribute computerized color flyers containing pertinent information concerning missing or abducted children.

Two objectives that are presently being met is that of an aggressive stance on "juvenile bullying" and a "zero tolerance" on the possession of weapons/intimidation within the schools. Several characteristics of bullying have been identified, 1. Physical Violence 2. Threats and Intimidation 3. Verbal Taunts and 4. Extortion.

These problems are taken seriously. Bullies come from many economic, cultural or religious backgrounds and many such persons have average or above average self-esteem. Boys usually bully through physical and verbal attacks whereas girls are more likely to bully through "emotional violence."

Recent times have seen an escalation of weapons offenses in/about schools, both in Clifton and throughout the nation and world. The tragedy which took place in Columbine, Colorado has called attention to the need to be wary of the safety of all persons concerned within the schools (students, teachers, faculty, staff, visitors and Officers). The relationship developed with school administration provides for a combined effort in assuring the well being of the schools and a cooperation in a zero tolerance effort in possessing weapons on campus and/or to and from school.

The Juvenile Division has also adopted a "High School Intern Program" in which two Seniors are selected and are assigned to the Department. These students are shown all the facets of law enforcement in this program as a pre-cursor to a profession which they would like to enter. One such intern is presently enrolled in a college Criminal Justice program, while continuing to clerk for the Clifton Police Department with aspirations of one day becoming a Clifton Police Officer.

The Juvenile Division has taken an aggressive stance in eliminating bullying/possession of weapons and maintaining safe schools. This stance is well supported by the Passaic County Prosecutors Office.

The Juvenile Division continues to place a strong emphasis on providing a safe environment, conducive to learning, where children can be free from hostility and disruptions, which could negatively impact their quality of life.