Peace Islands Institute-Law enforcement Luncheon Series
Colonel Mr. Fuentes State Police Superintendent- Luncheon
May 26, 2015
Speaking at PII luncheon forum, Colonel Joseph Fuentes
outlines State Police high-tech law enforcement programs
Colonel Joseph R. Fuentes, superintendent of the NJ State Police, was the featured speaker at a luncheon forum on May 22 hosted by Peace Islands Institute, Hasbrouck Heights. During his presentation, Colonel Fuentes outlined recent, innovative, high-tech law enforcement programs in New Jersey designed to enhance and accelerate the process of gathering, analyzing and distributing real-time information to solve crimes and apprehend criminal suspects.
A 60,000-square-foot “fusion center,” located at State Police headquarters in West Trenton, is the centerpiece of this progressive effort in law enforcement. Launched three years ago, Colonel Fuentes said this center digests a spectrum of information to significantly compress decision-making time to solve crimes and identify suspects.
In the past, prior to establishing the fusion center, decisions on how and when to take action in a criminal case went through a complex, time-consuming chain of command before law enforcement resources were deployed, according to Colonel Fuentes. Today that decision-making process has been streamlined due to the resources of the fusion center.
Six months ago, the capabilities of the fusion center were extended with a “real-time crime center” (RTCC), a separate facility based in Newark. Colonel Fuentes explained that this center assembles data from a specific, unfolding crime scene to provide information to law enforcement officers on a “real-time” basis; in effect, while the “trail is still warm,” he said. Often times, in a serious crime like a homicide, the real-time crime center is able to quickly assemble a profile of potential suspects as well as background information on the victim of the crime, illuminating connections between the two parties.
Along with rapidly aiding in the investigation of a specific crime, the fusion center and the RTCC in Newark conduct “geo-spacial predictive analysis,” an advanced technology tool that seeks to anticipate events in a criminal environment by “overlaying” various pieces of data, Colonel Fuentes said.
He also discussed his department’s efforts in a regional approach to fighting crime in northern New Jersey, such as the “21 Corridor” program that works out of the fusion center. This program, he said, is a relatively new law enforcement model that monitors criminal activity in the urban centers of Newark, Paterson and Jersey City—a regional “triangle” where nearly half of New Jersey’s homicides take place. The program involves monthly meetings with 30 municipal police departments and State Police officials to share knowledge on current crime trends and events. The program also involves outreach to regional community groups.
“It’s important for police departments to lean on each other and cooperate,” he said.
Another example of recent regional cooperation involves initiatives between law enforcement agencies and state public health departments in the fight against illegal drug use, especially the emerging heroin epidemic. “We need a new generation of cooperation between law enforcement and public health agencies to deal with drug use,” he said. Online news reports indicated there were nearly 1,200 drug-overdose deaths in New Jersey in 2013, with the majority related to heroin abuse.
Ercan Tozan, the executive director of PII’s New Jersey office, said the presentation by Colonel Fuentes was part of an important series of luncheon programs sponsored and organized by PII to recognize the dedicated work of men and women in law enforcement in the Garden State. Recent luncheon forums this year at the Hasbrouck Heights office have included Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino, Carolyn A. Murray, acting Essex County Prosecutor, and Paul J. Fishman, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey. In November 2014 PII hosted its Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner at the Hyatt Morristown.
On June 2, 2003, Colonel Fuentes was selected by NJ Gov. James McGreevey as the 14th superintendent of the NJ State Police Department. He enlisted in the State Police Department in January 1978 and has served in a variety of assignments. In 1993 he was a co-recipient of the “NJ State Police Trooper of the Year” award. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Kean College in 1977, a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, in 1992, and a doctorate degree in Philosophy in Criminal Justice from City University of New York in 1998.
He is a member of the U.S. Attorney General’s Global Advisory Committee, a member of the Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Partners Group of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and serves as a member of Harvard University’s Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety. Colonel Fuentes grew up in Rutherford and resides in Bergen County.