Coronato was named Prosecutor of the Year while Detective David Fox was named Narcotics Officer of the Year.
Other award recipients include:
- Detective Michael Heale & Ocean County Corrections Det. Rebecca Roth - Investigative Excellence
- Detective Anthony Sgro, Berkeley Police Department - Investigative Excellence
- Ocean County Special Operations Group Northern Unit - Investigative Excellence
- Ocean County Special Operations Group Southern Unit - Investigative Excellence
The New Jersey Narcotics Officers Association was started in 1965 in Newark by a small group of officers concerned over the proliferation of drugs, said Al Della Fave, spokesman for the prosecutor's office. The group was organized to encourage mutual cooperation, discussions and to provide better training for narcotics officers. The group now has over 2,000 members.
Coronato was recognized by the group for quickly and aggressively targeting Ocean County's drug issues when he became prosecutor in 2013, as well as his efforts to hold education forums featuring noted speakers and musicians. Furthermore, the group recognized Coronato for spearheading the state's Narcan program in light of a rising death toll from opiate abuse.
"I firmly believe that true leadership is defined by results," said Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas Boyd, in the statement. "To date, Prosecutor Joseph Coronato’s tenure has resulted in tremendous improvements to Ocean County Law Enforcement and the communities we serve. Prosecutor Coronato’s greatest strength is his ability to drive significant change in the community, while providing passionate support for those who protect and serve."
Fox, the county detective, was selected to receive his award for organizing and executing Operation Weed Whacker in 2013, which resulted in the seizure of over 100 pounds of marijuana, $500,000 in drug proceeds as well as guns and drug packing and distribution materials.
In 2014, Fox organized Operation Growin' Up, a two month-long investigation that included law enforcement agencies from Ocean County to California. The investigation ultimately led to the seizure of 120 pounds of marijuana, $400,000 in drug proceeds and the arrests of 12 people.