Sheriff’s Office conducts Evacuation and Training at the Courthouse

Employees and members of public seen walking away from the Courthouse.
Employees and members of the public evacuate the Courthouse during a drill on November 22.

On Wednesday, November 22, officers of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office participated in an evacuation and active threat training drill at the Morris County Courthouse during working hours.

The Courthouse was closed to the public from 11am-1pm for the event where employees and members of the public were instructed to leave the courthouse. Electronic signs were visible around the Courthouse notifying the public of the drill and the Morris County Sheriff’s Office posted a message on their FaceBook page of the same.  After the successful evacuation, a large scale active threat training drill was conducted involving the entire agency. Across the street, the Administration and Records Building remained open during the shut down.

Officers watch several video monitors during a drill.
Undersheriff Mark S. Spitzer and Chief Edward K. Crooker monitor the screens during the active threat drill on November 22.

“This is the first time a drill of this caliber has been conducted during working hours at the Courthouse. The Morris County Courthouse is a critical infrastructure. The Morris County Sheriff’s Office has the responsibility of not only protecting the judicial staff, but the state and county employees as well as the public entering the Courthouse to conduct daily business. I am very impressed by the jobs these officers did. We’re going to see more of this training in the future,” said Sheriff James M. Gannon.

Sgt. Rawa addresses approx 20 Sheriff's Officers.
Sgt. Walter Rawa briefs the officers of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office prior to the active threat drill.

The drill went extremely well overall for the first time being conducted during normal operating hours. All participants successfully completed their tasks at hand reinforcing the level of training the Morris County Sheriff’s Office will continue to provide,” said training coordinator Sgt. Walter Rawa.

Det. McMahon working K9 Chip, a yellow lab, around a garbage can.
Detective Corporal Michael McMahon and K9 Chip go to work during the active threat drill at the Morris County Courthouse on November 22.

Sheriff’s Office K-9s recognized by Assemblyman Bucco

On Wednesday, November 1, Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco of the 25th District presented Morris County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Sigmund & K-9 Loco citations for their work that led to the arrests of four Philadelphia men who are accused of breaking into Ledgewood Powerspots in early August.

wall of names of K-9s who've passed away

On August 3rd, 2017, at approximately 2:12 am, Roxbury Township Police were dispatched to Ledgewood Powersports located at 1368 Route 46 East, Ledgewood on an activated burglar alarm. Roxbury police officers arrived on scene and observed four (4) individuals running from the building.  A foot pursuit ensued and officers set up a perimeter to contain the subjects.  Officers on scene immediately called for the Morris County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Section to respond.

Morris County Sheriff’s Office, Det/Sgt. Tomasini arrived on scene and utilized K-9 Sigmund, a certified patrol dog to search for the subjects.  Following a trail of human scent, K-9 Sigmund was able to track over 50 yards in heavy brush and located and arrested two subjects.  K-9 Sigmund then continued to track human scent in the nearby area resulting in the apprehension of two more subjects.  K-9 Loco, along with handler Det. Carbone, also assisted at the scene. A few days later, Roxbury Police recognized the K-9s with steak dinners.

Assemblyman Bucco presents the citation to Sheriff Gannon, an officer, and a K-9 dogAssemblyman Bucco extended praise and commendations to the K-9s at the K-9 Section’s kennels as he presented the citations and treats.  “I am honored to recognize the officers of the Sheriff’s K-9 Section as well as the dogs that work by their side.  I’m not sure that the residents of Morris County realize how well trained these animals are and how often the dogs are utilized.  The dogs and their handlers are called upon 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Like in the Roxbury case, the calls often come in the middle of the night and in all kinds of weather to protect us and keep us safe.  The taxpayers of Morris County are well-served by this Section because municipalities can call when they need assistance, like when Sigmund and Loco were called in the middle of the night in Roxbury to track down four (4) burglars.  They say dogs are a person’s best friend, except if you are a crook in Morris County!” said Assemblyman Bucco.

Sheriff James M. Gannon said, “This citation just proves that Assemblyman Bucco and the New Jersey General Assembly understand how valuable our K-9s are to law enforcement, and how their hard work pays off in keeping the public safe.  I am very proud of the work the handlers and K-9s do to maintain our high level of service to the residents of Morris County.”

Det/Sgt. Tomasini said, “It is not very often that our K-9s receive such a prestigious recognition for the great work that they provide our community every day.  At the end of the day, it is a great feeling knowing that a revered community leader like Assemblyman Bucco supports what we do, and lets us know that we are doing things right at the Morris County Sheriff’s Office K-9 section.”

Trio Honored for Leadership at First Morris County Stigma-Free Conference

CONFERENCE FOCUSES ON TREATMENT AND RECOVERY FOR SUBSTANCE USE AND MENTAL ILLNESS

Three leaders of Morris County’s Stigma-Free Initiative, a countywide movement aimed at promoting treatment for mental illness and addiction to foster recovery, received the first Leadership in Action awards at yesterday’s Stigma-Free Conference held at the Morristown Medical Center.

Trio Honored for Leadership at First Morris County Stigma-Free Conference
(l/r) County Human Services Director Jennifer Carpinteri, County Behavioral Health Services Director Laurie Becker, Dana Critchlaw, Sheriff James M. Gannon, Rosaelena Klingener, and Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo

Honored for promoting a non-judgmental approach to offering treatment, and providing real alternatives toward recovery, were:

  • Dana Critchlaw, Jefferson Township—JT Connect
  • Rosaelena Klingener—Prime Healthcare/Saint Clare’s
  • James M. Gannon, Morris County Sheriff

They were honored at a conference sponsored by the Morris County Board of Freeholders and Atlantic Health System in collaboration with the Morris County Department of Human Services and the Stigma-Free Community.

Atlantic Health and Morris County logos

Entitled “Removing the Stigma of Mental Illness and Addiction: Building Healthy Communities,’’ the purpose of the event was to bring the community together to help:

  • Create a non-judgmental environment where individuals with mental illness and addictions feel supported by their community and neighbors
  • Encourage people to seek treatment for these illnesses without fear of stigma
  • Provide prevention, treatment, & recovery resource information
  • Share ideas on stigma free activities — discuss successes and challenges

We understand this Stigma-Free effort is not something the county Freeholder Board could just proclaim as a reality – issue a proclamation and it will go away,’’ said Morris County Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo. “We understand that Stigma-Free has to be more than just a slogan, that it has to become a fabric of live in our county community to have any real meaning., and to have a chance to succeed.’’

“Atlantic Health System is committed to building healthier communities, and that involves programs and partnerships outside of the walls of our hospitals,” said Trish O’Keefe, PhD, RN, president of Morristown Medical Center. “We aim to provide person-centered care that reflects the unique needs of each individual we’re privileged to serve. Through our ongoing partnerships with Morris County organizations, we’re able to ensure that both medical and psychosocial needs are met.”

Guest speakers at the conference provided, who spoke of the importance of a Stigma-Free approach, included: Bob Davison, CEO of the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris; Pamela Garanger of the National Alliance on Mentally Illness; Melissa Kiritsis of Jefferson’s JT Connect; and James M. Gannon, Morris County Sheriff.

The Honorees:

Laurie Becker, Rosaelena Klingener, and Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo
(l/r) Laurie Becker, Rosaelena Klingener, and Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo

Rosaelena Klingener:  A registered nurse, licensed social worker and nationally certified mental health first aid instructor, Rosaelena has worked for more than 25 year in the mental health field at Saint Clare’s Hospital. She is an advocate who makes connections, starts conversations, and fosters change.

In June, Rosaelena received NAMI New Jersey’s Provider Recognition Award for her compassionate support of individuals and families affected by mental illness.

She has long been committed to raising awareness, educating the public and bridging the gaps that prevent communities from accessing needed mental health and substance abuse services and resources. She has worked to promote a culture of understanding in which individuals get support in their wellness and recovery journeys.

Dana Critchlaw: A life-long Jefferson resident, Dana has long been a dedicated local volunteer and is the current leader of Jefferson Township CONNECT.

Laurie Becker, Dana Critchlaw, and Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo
(l/r) Laurie Becker, Dana Critchlaw, and Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo

After her cousin took his own life in 2012, she began to reach out to people who were suffering, working to remove barriers that prevented people, like her cousin, from speaking up about the hurt and pain that mental illness can cause. Her efforts received strong public support.

In May of 2017, she chaired an inaugural event, “Hike for Hope,” partnering with the Mayor’s Wellness campaign and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The event raised $3,400 for to help educational efforts by AFSP.

Dana describes these last five years as an opportunity to “discover light in a dark time.’’  She knows in her heart that her late cousin, Danny, is thankful that she has spoken up for those who cannot find the courage to speak for themselves.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon: The former Chief of Investigations at the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and Global Head of Security Risk at Novartis Pharmaceuticals took office in January. He promptly made combatting the opioid epidemic in Morris County a priority, launching three programs:

Trio Honored for Leadership at First Morris County Stigma-Free ConferenceHope One – A mobile outreach program with the Morris County Department of Human Services and the Center for Addiction Recovery Education and Success (CARES). The mobile unit provides critical support for individuals struggling with drug addiction. Life-saving Narcan training is available for persons living with addiction.

Hope Wing – The Hope Wing helps inmates address their addictions while incarcerated and serving their time through “New Direction” curriculum.

ID Program – The Sheriff’s Office and county Department of Human Services instituted an identification program for people ages of 18-54. Without ID, people cannot get blood work at a hospital, receive drug detox or treatment and cannot even obtain a library book.

Sheriff Gannon said he realizes the answer to the opioid epidemic lies in the private and public partnerships forged in Morris County.

To learn more about the Stigma-Free initiative, find resources, read the latest Stigma-Free news, and take a look at the a calendar of upcoming events related to mental illness and substance abuse, visit the Stigma Free website at https://morriscountystigmafree.org/  A Stigma Free Toolkit also is available for towns and communities.

Stigma is defined as a mark of disgrace which results from the judgment by others. When an individual is labeled by their illness they experience judgment and prejudice. Stigma brings experiences and feelings of shame, embarrassment, distress, hopelessness and reluctance to seek or accept help.