Prosecutor Santiago and additional members of the MCPO Executive Staff met with our 2024 interns for a luncheon today, getting to know a bit about the individuals spending time with us this summer as part of a prelude to the launch of a host of promising careers.

There’s plenty to learn, experience, and digest at what is technically Monmouth County’s largest law firm, which handles thousands of indictable cases annually in a jurisdiction of nearly 650,000 residents living in approximately 50 municipalities. We’re happy to have them with us! 
Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago and Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Christopher J. Decker were pleased to address our 2024 summer interns at the onset of their orientation this morning.
More than a dozen interns will be with us throughout much of the summer, learning about the various subsections of the Prosecutor’s Office and their respective functions and responsibilities. We wish all of them the very best as they embark upon what’s sure to be a fulfilling and fascinating glimpse of their potential futures!

Prosecutor Santiago, First Assistant Alonso, and Chief McCabe joined a host of community partners in taking part in the festivities at the Monmouth County Diversity Alliance’s 3rd Annual Juneteenth Festival in downtown Freehold.
It was among the first of a number of annual events locally marking “Juneteenth” — a portmanteau of the month “June” and the date “Nineteenth.” The holiday celebrates the date of June 19, 1865, when enslaved people located in Galveston, Texas, finally learned of their freedom from the slavery system in the United States.
Nearly 250 years passed from the time the British colonies’ first enslaved individuals arrived in Jamestown, Virginia to the time the last enslaved individuals were freed in Galveston, and the nation then endured nearly a century of Jim Crow injustice before passage of the federal Civil Rights Act – as coincidence would have it, following a 72-day Senate filibuster, that happened on June 19, 1964, or precisely 99 years to the day of liberation in Galveston.
To this day, we continue to strive to achieve the goals advanced by so many, throughout these centuries — equal treatment of all in the eyes of the law.

 
Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago and Chief of Detectives John G. McCabe, Jr., provided opening remarks to members of Monmouth County law enforcement officers, local bias liasions and some faith-based leaders for bias and hate crime training.
A key topic of discussion was the troubling spike in anti-Semitic and other bias incidents and crimes taking place not only in parts of New Jersey, but across the country.
The key to combating such incidents and changing the landscape is communication. We not only urge faith-based groups of all types and law enforcement agencies across Monmouth County to take steps to connect with each other and maintain open lines of communication, but we also encourage everyone to practice the expression of “see something, say something.” If you believe that you have observed anything that could be labeled as a bias incident or crime, contact your local authorities so they can investigate.
Special thanks to the MCPO’s Bias Crimes Unit for putting the event together and moderating the training. We also thank members of the Anti-Defamation League, NJ Office of Homeland New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and New Jersey State Police for being presenters.

 
Prosecutor Santiago, First Assistant Prosecutor Alonso, and Chief of Staff Padula were honored to attend the 52nd Annual Valor Awards Luncheon of the The 200 Club of Monmouth County in Spring Lake.
They looked on with pride as three members of the MCPO investigative team — Detectives Conor Mullan (not pictured), Steve Cavendish, and Aaron Shaw — were honored for their roles in a pair of cooperative investigations with local agencies that yielded stellar results.
Detective Mullan was the recipient of a Certificate of Recognition for his role in a joint investigation with members of the Long Branch Police Department, while Detectives Cavendish and Shaw were recipients of Commendation Awards for their role in a joint investigation with members of the Asbury Park Police Department.
Also pictured is MCPO Det. Sergeant Christopher Guy (Second from right)
We extend our sincere congratulations to all three for their outstanding investigative work that together resulted in multiple felons and firearms being taken off Monmouth County streets.

 
Prosecutor Santiago and several MCPO colleagues were honored to take part in the 10th Annual “Bike Blessing & Bike Safety Day”, jointly coordinated by Neptune VFW Post 1333 and Pilgrim Baptist Church of Red Bank.
One of the church’s most popular annual occasions, it’s a festive and vibrant affair, with games and activities, giveaways, motorcycle exhibits, live music and entertainment, a bike rodeo, bike safety instruction, community health information and screenings, resources from local and county agencies, and more all on site.
Many thanks to all of the event sponsors, including the Neptune Township Police Department and other MCPO community partners, and of course to Pilgrim Baptist Church, under the leadership of Pastor Terrence Porter.

 
In celebration of #pridemonth, Prosecutor Santiago and members of the MCPO, along with represntatives from the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, Chief George Baumann of the Freehold Township Police Department , Chief R. Craig Weber of the Middletown Township Police Department, NJ Lgbtq Law Enforcement Liaisons, Christian Fuscarino from Garden State Equality and Dave D’Amico, among others, gathered for a Pride Flag Raising Ceremony this morning.
As Prosecutor Santiago noted to those in attendance, “We will recognize, and stand shoulder to shoulder and support every person, regardless of the color of their skin, religion that they may practice, who they choose to love…We will stand make sure every voice is heard and every voice is treated equally.”
Happy Pride!

 
Prosecutor Santiago was honored to join First Assistant Prosecutor Julia Alonso and serve as co-keynote speaker at the 2nd annual Jersey Shore Worship Stronger Together Breakfast in Neptune.
It was a particularly receptive and enthusiastic audience that listened about how MCPO’s key outreach initiatives align perfectly with the theme of this year’s event: “One Community.” Specifically, Santiago explained, none of these many initiatives would be possible without the support and assistance of the many partner organizations that share our mission to extend a helping hand to those who are looking to turn their lives around, regardless of the nature of their personal challenges.
Many thanks to Jersey Shore Worship Executive Director Pastor Nancey Jackson Johnson for the invitation, and to the faith-based and community leaders who attended and contributed to an interactive discussion about how the simple notion of collaboration can serve as a powerful force multiplier when seeking to do good.

 
Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago was extremely proud to be a guest speaker and presenter at the Monmouth County Police Academy Graduation Ceremony. It was the 106th Basic Course for Police Officers, the 57th Course for Class II Special Law Enforcement Officers and the 42nd Basic Course for Correctional Police Officers.
Prosecutor Santiago presented the award for Outstanding Trainees, to the top Class II Special Law Enforcement Officer, Maeve Cosgrove of Spring Lake Police Department, and also the top Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Officer, Chase R. Stephensen.
A very special thank you to the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Shaun Golden, along with his entire team of training officers for being the gold standard in cadet training.
Congratulations to all our newest graduates as we welcome them to our Monmouth County law enforcement professionals. We wish you the very best as you embark on your new careers.

 
Prosecutor Santiago, along with members of the MCPO, family and friends, were proud to be on hand this afternoon to welcome two new members to the MCPO Family.
During a swearing-in ceremony, Prosecutor Santiago adminstered the Oath of Office to Detective Stephanie Regina, as well as welcoming Assistant Prosecutor Charles Clark. Congratulations to Charles and Stephanie on joining the MCPO. We are so fortunate to have you both as part of the team!

Members of the MCPO, including representatives from our legal, investigative, paralegal and clerical divisions were proud to be on hand today for the first Monmouth County Job Fair. Thank you to all the visitors who stopped by our table to say hi and ask questions.

 
The leadership of the Prosecutor’s Office was honored to join our trusted partners with Monmouth County Government and the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office for a special event marking National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) outside the Hall of Records in downtown Freehold, intended to honor and support those affected by crime in the community – and to serve as a time to unite, remember, and advocate for victims’ rights.
Speakers included Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago, First Assistant Prosecutor Julia Alonso, and several others gathered in support of the cause, including three individuals who shared personal stories of losing loved ones as the result of a crime. MCPO Victim Witness Unit Director Barbara Barbolini also delivered remarks recognizing and honoring the office’s Victim Witness Advocates, whose daily work is focused on providing support and services to victims of crimes and their families.
The theme for NCVRW 2024 is “Hope for Survivors,” whereby the federal Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) “asks all of us – friends, family members, neighbors, colleagues, community leaders, victim service providers, criminal justice practitioners, and health professionals – how we can help crime victims? Are you prepared if someone confides in you about a victimization? Is your organization victim-centered and trauma-informed? Are you familiar with the services available in your community?”
We sincerely thank each and every one of our community partner organizations and individuals who joined us yesterday in standing together in solidarity with survivors, raising awareness, and promoting healing and justice.

 
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office is marking the start of Mental Health Awareness Month with the official launch of three community-based initiatives intended to promote mental health services countywide.
“While the foundational responsibility for all of us in law enforcement is to ensure the public’s safety and seek justice, we have made it an accompanying priority here in Monmouth County to keep in mind that justice is not a one-size-fits-all concept; for every case and every defendant, it should be tailored to look slightly different,” Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago said. “Those defendants who are predominantly only hurting themselves with their crimes often find themselves at a crossroads in their lives by the time they encounter law enforcement: on one path is a downward spiral, while the other path can lead to a long, prosperous future. We view the initiatives being unveiled today as a mechanism through which police officers can not only point these individuals in the right direction, but connect them with the resources they need to get started on their journey.”
 
 

 
 
Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago, Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Christopher J. Decker, and Deputy Chief of Detectives Richard Chapman met with many of MCPO’s clerical workers to mark Administrative Professionals Day, recognizing the invaluable contributions they make every day to keep the office running smoothly and effectively.
MCPO’s investigators and assistant prosecutors are the more publicly forward-facing of our staff, but their accomplishments quite literally wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of our administrative professionals behind the scenes. Today and every day, we recognize and thank you for your work as public servants.
 
Congratulations to the MCPO’s Trial Division Director Tara Wilson, on receiving the Attorney Excellence Award at the 2024 Monmouth-Ocean County Bar Dinner.
The award was presented to those law colleagues who have distinguished themselves in their practice and service to the Bar.
Prosecutor Santiago and the MCPO Family could not be happier and prouder of Tara for being a recipient of such a deserving award to acknowledge her hard work and dedication to the Office.
Congratulations Tara! We are all so proud of you.

 
 
We at MCPO could not be prouder of our very own Lt. Andrea Tozzi, who this morning was honored as the 2024 recipient of the New Jersey OAG Pablo Santiago Resiliency Award.
With Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago, First Assistant Prosecutor Julia Alonso, Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Christopher J. Decker, and Chief of Detectives John G. McCabe Jr. looking on, Lt. Tozzi accepted the award during a ceremony in Trenton. The OAG said it selected Lt. Tozzi for the honor specifically for coupling “her background in social work with her dedication to public safety and commitment to her colleagues,” noting that she has “found ways to support the wellness of her fellow officers by proactively developing, maintaining, and supporting partnerships and programs that help officers respond to the increasing expectations of the community.”
As the investigative supervisor of the Special Victims Bureau and a central figure spearheading several office initiatives to promote mental health and wellness, not only for sworn members of law enforcement, but civilians in crisis alike, Lt. Tozzi’s efforts make her a prime example of everything a 21st-century policing leader can and should be.
Read more about Lt. Tozzi’s award, as well as the others given today, here: https://www.njoag.gov/attorney-general-platkin-announces…/

 
Nurses might not be the first type of worker to come to mind when thinking of the various vocations of those who work at a Prosecutor’s Office, but they’re a fundamentally invaluable component of the investigative and prosecutorial work we do every day here.
As such, we can think of no better occasion than National Nurses Week to recognize and honor them. Under the leadership of Forensic Nurse Coordinator Kristen Crespo and Assistant Forensic Nurse Coordinator Erin Tyler, our team routinely makes us all proud with their attention to detail, resourcefulness, and deep sense of compassion for victims of crimes.
Today, this week, and every day, our sincerest thanks go out to you.

 
Representatives from the MCPO and more than half a dozen local, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, including Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago, came together at Long Branch Middle School earlier this week to participate in a morning of mentorship with student members of the school’s Pathways and Civic Career Exploration (PAC²E) program, through which local youths interested in public service are given an opportunity to start laying the foundation of a career.
It’s nothing short of a genuine inspiration to see so many young people already invested in making their communities better places to live, and we commend them for their ambition and commitment to the greater good.

Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago was honored to travel to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Upper Elementary School in Asbury Park yesterday to join Board of Monmouth County Commissioners Director Thomas A. Arnone, Ocean Township Mayor and Asbury Park teacher John P. Napolitani, Sr., and others for a Read Across America event.
Described as the “biggest reading celebration in the country” and now in its 25th year, the National Education Association initiative falling in early March annually draws an estimated 45 million participants, all united in the common goal of promoting the importance, value, and fun of reading.