Office of Emergency Management Leadership
In 2015, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka launched his vision to consolidate Police, Firefighters, and Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security personnel under the newly created Department of Public Safety. The merger enhances public safety by making the operations of these essential services more efficient and effective. In 2022, Mayor Baraka tapped Fritz Fragé to serve as Newark’s Public Safety Director. He oversees nearly 2,000 city employees, including 1,100 police officers, 650 firefighters, and over 350 civilian employees, all dedicated to serving the residents and visitors of the City of Newark with the utmost in public safety excellence.
Meet The OEM Coordinator
John Sharpe James
In August 2022, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka named John Sharpe James as Coordinator of the City of Newark’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and Preparedness (OEM) Division.
James was born and raised in the City of Newark, New Jersey. He attended St. Benedict’s Preparatory High School and Morehouse College earning an English degree. During his first semester in college, John joined the United States Army Reserves and Georgia Tech ROTC Program.
Later John was commissioned by the New Jersey Army National Guard as a 2nd Lieutenant Infantry Officer. Over the next 19 years, John went through various classes and assignments such as Airborne School, Infantry Officer School, Mortar training, and specialized (TOW) missile training. James responded to civil disturbances and other community situations throughout his service before being promoted to Major. In his new rank, James responded to floods, 9-11, and other situations in New Jersey as a member of the Army National Guard.
From 1992-1995, James attended Rutgers School of Law in Newark and earned a Juris Doctorate Degree. James continued his military service during Desert Storm in 1990 and a one-year tour of combat duty in Afghanistan from September 2007 through September 2008. During this tour, James served as an Infantry Ground Commander against the Taliban and Anti-Coalition Forces. Major James sustained injuries when he was blown up by an enemy explosive device which detonated under his vehicle. Major James retired from the United States Army in 2009 after 23 years of service with numerous awards and accolades including a Purple Heart Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, and Meritorious Service Medal.
James served as Emergency Management Coordinator and Safety Officer at Essex County Hospital Center from 2009-2022. There he was responsible for planning and coordinating the continued safety of patients and hospital operations during emergencies.
OEM Director James looks forward to increasing community engagements with Newark residents to help them better prepare for emergencies and to participate in the City’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
Meet the Deputy Coordinator
Juba Dowdell, a lifelong Newark resident, is Deputy Coordinator of the Newark Office of Emergency Management (OEM), serving under the Department of Public Safety.
Mr. Dowdell joined OEM in January 2015 and manages its Emergency Operation Center, the centralized and dedicated facility where Newark Police, Firefighters, and a host of public and private agencies work collaboratively when critical incidents impact public safety.
Specializing in infrastructure protection and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster declarations, Mr. Dowdell has garnered over 1,000 hours of emergency response training. His expertise is built upon a wealth of instruction provided by the Emergency Management Institute, FEMA, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Texas A&M’s Engineering Extension Service, and the New Jersey State Police.
During his dedicated service to the City of Newark, Mr. Dowdell has responded to a broad range of emergencies, from Super Storm Sandy in 2012 to the COVID-19 pandemic, during which he established testing and vaccination facilities and coordinated facility and equipment sanitizing citywide. His emergency response experience includes addressing the needs of Newark residents regarding water main breaks, snow storms, flooding, mass sheltering requirements, and more.
Formerly an educator within Newark Public Schools, Mr. Dowdell also trains and equips Newark Police and Firefighters to support their proficiency in emergency response. The essential training modules he presents include Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR); high-angle rescue and recovery; Urban Search Rescue and Recovery, and high-water vehicle rescue, among others.
With a passion to expand emergency response training to as many Newark community members as possible, Mr. Dowdell is also instrumental in providing training to the Newark Department of Public Safety’s Citizens and Clergy Public Safety Academy and Community Emergency Response Teams.