Rockland DA program goes national with fed money

Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe and his staff hoped to break ground by creating their own community prosecution teams to work with police and community leaders on fighting crime.

Zugibe put together the teams soon after taking office in 2008, after researching models across the nation, and believes it’s one of the most important programs he’s initiated, along with the victim’s center at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern.

Now, the U.S. Justice Department has issued a $500,000 grant for several cities to replicate the Rockland District Attorney’s Office program.

Zugibe gets bragging rights.

Below is the news release from his office on July 6, 2011:
Contact: Xiomara Lopez (845) 638-5013

Rockland County District Attorney Thomas P. Zugibe announced that a $500,000 grant has been awarded by the United States Department of Justice to replicate the county’s visionary and highly successful Community Prosecution model in three initial U.S. cities.

The federal grant, secured jointly by the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), is being used to develop Community Prosecution programs in Mesa, Arizona, St. Paul, Minnesota and Newport News, Virginia.

Under Zugibe’s leadership, the District Attorney’s Office has developed and refined an innovative Community Prosecution approach, which has been recognized by the Justice Department as a cutting edge approach.

The funding allows the IACP to provide technical assistance and other guidance to out-of-state prosecutors’ offices and police departments to facilitate the adoption of Rockland’s model of Community Prosecution in their respective areas.

District Attorney Zugibe, Clarkstown Police Chief Michael Sullivan, Spring Valley Police Chief Paul Modica and members of their respective staff together with representatives from the Rockland Intelligence Center and Rockland County Drug task Force this month offered presentations on the basic tenets of Community Prosecution to law enforcement representatives from Mesa, Arizona, St. Paul, Minnesota and Newport News, Virginia.

Participating agencies included:
The Mesa Police Department
The Maricopa County Attorney
The Mesa City Attorney’s Office
The City of St. Paul Police Department
The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office
The St. Paul City Attorney’s Office
The Commonwealth Attorney for the City of Newport News
The Chief of the Newport News Police Department

Zugibe’s vision for restorative justice is touted as a model for other prosecutors throughout the country. Rockland County’s Community Prosecution model seeks to reduce the distance, social and physical, between prosecutors, law enforcement and the community.

The Rockland County District Attorney’s Office has initiated a series of high-profile initiatives designed to address quality of life concerns and other issues that fall outside of the traditional case-processing domain. Included in these are partnerships with local police departments, school districts, businesses leaders and community groups.

The Zugibe Administration officially launched Community Prosecution in Rockland County on November 20th, 2008. Since then, the effort has resulted in numerous indictments and convictions on a variety of criminal offenses. In addition, the model of Community Prosecution in the RCDA’s Office has given local residents a greater voice in prioritizing and solving problems that plague neighborhoods, from Suffern to Stony Point.

All of Rockland County’s police departments have been assigned Community Prosecutors, each possessing unique knowledge of their jurisdiction. Local residents are helping to make a difference by engaging directly with prosecutors from the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office, contacting local police departments and utilizing the RCDA’s Web site,

Steve Lieberman

Steve Lieberman joined The Journal News as an editor in February 1984 and became a reporter during the spring of 1986. He has covered police, courts and legal issues for more than a decade, after reporting on county, town, village and state governments and general issues. He received more than a dozen state awards for writing and reporting. Born and raised in The Bronx, he has lived in Rockland since 1988.