Hope One to Mark Six Months on the Road

Hope One vehicle with purple ribbon parked on streetOn a beautiful Saturday in June at a large Morris County event, a 40 year old college educated businessman was at the lowest point of his life, sitting in the back of the Hope One vehicle. He was strung out, addicted to opiates, had a strained relationship with his children and wanted to end his life. It was at that moment the Hope One Certified Peer Recovery Specialist, someone who has walked in the shoes of addiction, had a conversation with the struggling man. “How can you make your life better?” started Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Alton Robinson. That evening, he entered a ninety (90) day treatment program which he successfully completed. He moved on to a recovery house and is now home, working and “doing great.”

It’s stories like this that continue to make Hope One successful in its first six (6) months travelling around Morris County. To combat the opioid crisis, Hope One launched on April 3, 2017, by Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon in partnership with the Morris County Department of Human Services, the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris, and Morris County Prevention is Key (MCPIK) and their Center for Addiction Recovery Education and Success (CARES). Hope One is a mobile recovery access vehicle offering critical support for persons and families struggling with addiction travelling twice a week around Morris County bringing services to persons in need. A Sheriff’s Officer, licensed clinician and a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist staff the vehicle. Hope One is able to provide clients immediate access to services and treatment facilities, putting them on the road to recovery and wellness. The lifesaving drug Naloxone, also known as Narcan, reverses the effects of an Opioid overdose.   Hope One provides Narcan education, training and kits to family members and friends of those suffering from opiate addiction, free of charge. “This program has proven effective by providing a comfortable, stigma free setting where successes have been immediate,” said Morris County Director of Human Services Jennifer Carpinteri.

Public attending training under a tent outside Hope One vehicle
Narcan Training presented on a Hope One stop.

Sheriff James M. Gannon said, “Every nine minutes a new contact is made on Hope One. We have engaged one thousand, seven hundred and twenty-four (1,724) people in six (6) months. We have travelled to thirty-two (32) towns out of the thirty-nine (39) within Morris County. We bring services to the clients. That’s why we’re different. We’re still trending at 60% above last year in fatal overdoses. There is a strong need and we’re addressing that need.”

The Hope One team is “planting a seed,” says Mr. Robinson. For every person that visits with Hope One, they take away information about recovery, addiction, mental illness and available services. Visitors pass this information along to loved ones, neighbors, friends and co-workers, some of who are struggling with addiction. In turn, these individuals come to Hope One to learn more and possibly connect with services. “Hope One is a meeting point that takes on a sense of community. We will be here to support you,” said Melody Runyon of CARES.

The Hope One Team removes barriers through collaborations and relationships with treatment providers that have access to available beds daily. President and CEO of Daytop NJ Jim Curtin said, “Daytop is completely inspired by the leadership of Sheriff Gannon and the entire Hope One Team. The Sheriff truly understands the power of prevention, treatment, and law enforcement working together. Daytop gladly guarantees an immediate bed for youth and young adults under the age of 21 who are suffering from a substance use disorder. We will also step up our commitment to guarantee immediate admission for both adolescents and adults at our Morris outpatient center.”

Mental Health Clinician Madine Despine of the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris said, “People don’t know the services that are available to them. When you leave Hope One, you can leave with more than you came with.” The mental health clinician on Hope One provides options, schedules appointments and follows up with individuals struggling in the community.

A member of the Hope One Team, Morris County Sheriff’s Corporal Erica Valvano commented, “One day last week on Hope One, we trained nine people on how to administer Narcan and respond to an opiate overdose including a woman whose in-laws are struggling with substance abuse and a grandmother whose grandson is actively using heroin. Our mental health clinician offered services to a woman that approached Hope One for her friend struggling with severe depression. Several concerned parents of teenagers also came to educate themselves on the opioid epidemic. This is an example of a typical day on Hope One.”

A 21 year old male, was “dragged” by his mother to the Hope One mobile outreach vehicle parked on the Morristown Green. He was actively using heroin at that point in his life. He spent about an hour talking with a peer recovery specialist. While it took his third violation of probation to stop using drugs, he still remembers the good advice he took away from that conversation six months ago. “Hope One is a place to direct you to recovery,” he said, now clean, sober, working and “making conscious decisions.”

“Hope One has been a huge asset to law enforcement in the county.  Providing help to those who need it, and education & training to those who can help someone else, begins to combat the issue before there needs to be police involvement,” said Mt. Arlington Chief Keith Licata, President of the Morris County Police Chiefs Association.

Sheriff James M. Gannon said, “The mission of Hope and the newly opened Hope Wing in the Morris County Correctional Facility is to prevent drug overdoses and deaths in Morris County. We want to return those addicted to productive members of our society.”

On Tuesday, October 3, Hope One will be celebrating its six month anniversary in Dover at JFK Commons Park located at North Bergen Street and Route 46 from 11AM – 2PM. Visit Hope One and look for the purple ribbon!

For a schedule of upcoming Hope One stops, visit sheriff.morriscountynj.gov or facebook.com/morriscountysheriffsoffice or twitter @Hopeonemorris.

For further information on CARES, contact 973-625-1143 or facebook.com/caresnj.

Sheriff’s Project Lifesaver Program finds 91 year old Hanover man

Sheriff's Officer trains with Project Lifesaver tracker
Sheriff’s Officer Travis Somerville trains with the Project Lifesaver PLI 3000 tracker.

A 91 year old Hanover Twp. man with dementia was found safe on the ground in Central Park early Thursday, September 28, 2017 thanks to the Morris County Sheriff’s Project Lifesaver Program. The man’s wife activated the system when she reported him missing around 4:28 AM. He was last seen around 10:30 PM on Wednesday night. Upon his arrival, Morris County Sheriff’s Office Detective Eric Hanna received an audible alert from the Project Lifesaver PLI 3000 tracker. He informed the Hanover Twp. officers the direction of the alert was south of the S. Jefferson Rd and Eden Lane intersection. Less than five minutes from receiving the signal, Hanover Twp. police officers located the man in Central Park on Eden Lane, over half a mile from his residence. The male was found lying on the ground unharmed wearing minimal clothing. Cedar Knolls First Aid Squad responded.

The Morris County Sheriff’s Office Project Lifesaver Program is free to Morris County residents and is used to help locate missing persons with dementia, Alzheimer’s, Down Syndrome, autism or traumatic brain injuries. These clients are at risk of wandering and not able to communicate who they are or where they live.

Adults and juveniles on the program are equipped with a bracelet with a transmitter attached. The waterproof transmitter is about the size of a watch and emits radio frequencies unique to that client. Should the client go missing, the special tracker is used to pick up that specific frequency to find the client. The program not only helps to keep the client safe but also shortens search time and provides peace of mind to the caregivers. The Morris County Sheriff’s Office average recovery time is thirteen (13) minutes.

“This is an outstanding program that reassures the families and caregivers that all possible resources will be utilized in the effort to locate and return their loved one home safely. It assists the local municipalities with fast results and keeps the residents of Morris County safe in all seasons,” said Sheriff James M. Gannon.

This is the second time this year the Morris County Sheriff’s Project Lifesaver Program located a missing person. In June, a 66 year old Kinnelon man with dementia was located using the tracker and found walking a quarter of a mile away from his home.

Project Lifesaver is a national program that began in 1999. The Morris County Sheriff’s Office started its program for adults in 2003 and added children in 2005. Since then, it has taken off to become the second largest program in the state with 124 clients. The program’s officers are certified and trained on the equipment and attend Autism and Alzheimer’s training. Project Lifesaver is available in every county in New Jersey.

For an application or more information, visit sheriff.morriscountynj.gov or call Sheriff’s Operational Services at 973-285-6618.

Morris County Sheriff’s Office Sniffs out Shelter Dog for K-9 Section

K-9 Boomer with K-9 and animal control officers
K-9 Boomer Adoption Day. Pictured from left to right in the photo: Parsippany Animal Control Officer Kaitlin Kopshaw, Detective Corporal Frank Perez, Detective Sergeant Aaron Tomasini, Detective Corporal Mike McMahon and Parsippany Animal Control Officer Heidi Mooney.

The Morris County Sheriff’s Office has adopted a dog from the Parsippany Animal Shelter to be trained as a single purpose explosive detection dog. K9 Boomer, an 8 month old German Shepherd / Labrador Mix was selected after passing the Morris County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Section’s rigorous preliminary testing standards.

Sheriff James M. Gannon said, “From shelter to a hard working K-9 team, we welcome Boomer to our law enforcement family.”

Opportunity struck when Sheriff’s Detective Corporal Mike McMahon was attempting to adopt a bearded dragon for his son. Parsippany Animal Control Officer Kaitlin Kopshaw spoke to Detective Corporal McMahon about the dog, then known as Becker, expressing he could be a good candidate for police work. The dog had been to a few homes, but returned after a short time due to having a tremendous amount of energy. Detective Corporal McMahon met the dog and conducted preliminary tests of the dog’s abilities.

On September 18, 2017, the shelter dog was evaluated by Detective Sergeant Aaron Tomasini and Detective Corporal McMahon where he qualified to receive training as an explosive detection dog. Boomer was re-named and will become the Morris County Sheriff’s Office 29th Single Purpose Specialty Dog in the history of the K-9 Section.

Sheriff James M. Gannon said, “The K-9 Section will train Boomer to perform his expected duties while continuing to provide a high level of service to the residents of Morris County at no expense to the taxpayers.”

Parsippany Mayor James Barberio said, “The Parsippany Animal Shelter is happy to work in accordance with the Morris County Sheriff’s Office. I am very thankful to the K-9 Section for adopting Becker from our animal shelter, now known as Boomer, and giving him an important job within their task force. We know Boomer will far exceed our expectations and we are anxiously awaiting all that he will accomplish!”

“An opportunity like this doesn’t present itself very often. Having the ability to create a happy ending of a bad situation is truly inspiring. It just proves that every dog has a purpose,” said Detective Sergeant Aaron Tomasini of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Section.