CRANFORD – Union County College offered a panel discussion, called “Women in Criminal Justice and Emergency Management,” which addressed careers and professional experiences in the areas of criminal justice and emergency management. More than 100 students attended the presentation of eight female professionals from the following offices: Montclair Police Department, Union County Office of Health Management, Union County Prosecutor’s Office, Union County Sheriff’s Office, Union County Department of Corrections, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Union County Police Department.
Jennifer Erdos of the Union County Office of Women and John Arezzi, Union County College Instructor of Criminal Justice, coordinated the panel of speakers. They brought to the College’s Cranford campus some of the most successful women in the fields of criminal justice and emergency management located in Union County and from throughout the state.
Freeholder Chairman Bruce Bergen noted, “Events like this help to shed light on the wide breath of opportunities for women in law enforcement. This enables Union County College students to critically analyze their next steps in order to succeed in the criminal justice arena.”
The first to speak was Union County Special Deputy Attorney General/Acting Assistant Prosecutor Susan Gleason. She discussed her current responsibilities in the Juvenile Unit. Ms. Gleason received her law degree from Widener University and is a member of the New Jersey and Maryland Bar. She has a vast amount of experience, having worked in almost every unit in the office including the Trial Team, Special Prosecutions Unit, Child Abuse Unit, and Grand Jury Unit.
The second panelist to speak was Detective Suzanne Deegan, also from the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, who discussed her extensive involvement with law enforcement. Before joining the Prosecutor’s Office, she served in the United States Secret Service as a Special Agent and the United States Customs Service as a Customs Inspector, and the Union County Police, serving in the Narcotic Strike Force, Homicide Unit, and the Domestic Violence Unit.
Officer Tara McCarthy serves as a Sheriff’s Officer in the Union County Sheriff’s Department. She has worked in the Court Security Division, Juvenile Division, and Domestic Violence Division. She is also the lead instructor/mentor to the newly-formed Sheriff’s Pre-Academy Program which prepares new recruits for the physical portion of the Police Academy’s Basic Course for Police Officers.
Officer Christine Spady is a Corrections Officer in the Union County Corrections Department. Working in the field of corrections she claims is in her because her grandmother and great grandmother worked in corrections on Rikers Insland in New York City. She currently works at the John H. Stamler Police Academy in Scotch Plains. Her best advice to those in attendance was to find out what you love and pursue it.
Deputy Chief Tracy Frazzano of the Montclair Police Department, graduated from Rutgers University and immediately took the civil service exam. She is the first female supervisor in the history of her department. She has worked with FEMA, the FBI and Homeland Security, and graduated from the FBI Academy. She recommended to the audience that want to enter law enforcement, get in physical condition now.
Detective Caryn Campanelli is a member of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and is assigned to the Gangs, Guns and Narcotics Unit and the Attorney General’s Atlantic City Task Force focused on violent crimes and narcotics. Detective Campanelli has received special training in several specialties including the Undercover Narcotics Investigative Training (UNIT), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Two Week Basic Narcotics School, Tactical Interview and Interrogation, and number narcotics and other law enforcement courses.
Officer Tara Hesse is a member of the Union County Police Department, having started out with the Park’s Police division. Her interest in Public Safety and serving the community stemmed from her parents. Her father was a firefighter/EMT and her mother was a registered nurse. Officer Hesse is a graduate of the John H. Stamler Police Academy and currently serves in the Patrol Division of the Union County Police Department.
Ms. Annie McNair is a member of the Union County Office of Health Management and holds a master’s degree in public health. In her more than 22 years in the field, she has worked in the fields of childhood lead poisoning prevention, HIV/AIDS, heart failure, increasing racial and ethnic diversity in graduate health care professions, public health needs assessments, and emergency preparedness. She explained that working in public health includes improving ones physical, mental, and emotional health.
Following the presentations, a lively and informative question and answer session was held. Union County College’s Dr. Lester Sandres Rapalo, Dean of Social Sciences/Business/ History, and Dr. Raul Sanchez, Vice President of Administrative Services and Executive Assistant to the President, helped coordinate the panel discussion and bring the entire project to fruition. This program was made possible with support from the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Union County Office on Women, Department of Human Services.