Today, Governor Chris Christie signed Executive Order No. 33 establishing the County Prosecutor Study Commission to examine the feasibility of modifying the State's county prosecutor system towards greater efficiency and savings for taxpayers. Last month, the Governor met with leaders of the state's 21 counties to get input and discuss their proposals to change how the county prosecutor system operates, including the possibility of placing county prosecutors within the Attorney General's Office.
"At a time of limited resources, we must ensure governments at every level function as efficiently and effectively as possible," said Governor Christie. "Through this Study Commission, I am directing Attorney General Paula Dow to conduct a thorough review of the current system governing the County Prosecutor's Offices and to determine whether efficiencies, cost savings and a more equitable allocation of resources can be achieved."
While county prosecutors are appointed by the Governor, and fall under the supervision of the Attorney General, county prosecutor's offices often have their own separate operating structure, resulting in inefficiencies, administrative redundancies, caseload discrepancies and inconsistent salary compensation among county offices.
"During these hard economic times, all areas of government, including law enforcement, must look for ways to operate with maximum efficiency without compromising public safety," said Attorney General Dow. "I look forward to working with county officials throughout the state, my Director of the Division of Criminal Justice, and the County Prosecutors to explore this important and challenging issue."
The Study Commission will examine the concerns raised by county officials, explore and provide recommendations to the Governor on a number of issues, including:
* the viability of a total or partial State takeover of the county prosecutor's offices
* potential areas of waste redundancy and inefficiencies
* alternatives to a State takeover that can achieve costs savings and efficiencies, including regional consolidation and shared services
* current funding of county prosecutor's offices and whether the current funding mechanisms are appropriate including viability of the County Prosecutor Funding Initiative Pilot Program
Attorney General Paula Dow will chair the Study Commission which will be comprised of Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff; Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.; Morris County Administrator John Bonanni; Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson; Hudson County Executive Thomas A. DeGise; Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes; Burlington County Prosecutor Robert D. Bernardi; Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow; Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes; Stephen J. Taylor, Director, Division of Criminal Justice; Patrick E. Hobbs, Dean, Seton Hall University School of Law; and former Attorney General W. Cary Edwards.
The Commission will issue its final report to Governor Christie no later than December 15, 2010 and will serve without compensation.