Morris County Sheriff’s Office Gang Intelligence Unit Hosts Gang Awareness And Identification Training for Law Enforcement Officers Across The Country

The Morris County Sheriff’s Office hosted a two-day gang awareness and identification training conference, where 280 law enforcement attendees from around the country learned the latest from gang car and identity theft trends to threats posed by the Trinitarios gang and global jihadists.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, center, with Morris County Sheriff's Office Bureau of Corrections Detective Corporal Edwin L. Santana on his right, stands with officers for the Sheriff's Office before a gang awareness and identification training conference hosted by his office begins on May 28.
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, center, with Morris County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Corrections Detective Corporal Edwin L. Santana on his right, stands with officers for the Sheriff’s Office before a gang awareness and identification training conference hosted by his office begins on May 28.

The conference was organized by Morris County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Corrections Detective Corporal Edwin L. Santana, an internationally-recognized street and prison gang specialist, in conjunction with the East Coast Gang Investigators Association, Magloclen, and the College of Saint Elizabeth’s Criminal Justice-Police Studies Institute.

From left, Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Sheriff's Office Bureau of Corrections Detective Corporal Edwin L. Santana, and Morris County Correctional Facility Warden Christopher Klein at the Morris County Sheriff's Office Gang Intelligence Unit training conference on May 28, 2019.fROM
From left, Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Corrections Detective Corporal Edwin L. Santana, and Morris County Correctional Facility Warden Christopher Klein at the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Gang Intelligence Unit training conference on May 28, 2019.

“We’ve tried to put this together for officer safety and awareness. As we see throughout the East Coast and as you’ll hear from our various speakers, the crime rate, recruitment and overall gang activity within the United States and abroad is increasing,” Detective Corporal Santana said in opening conference remarks.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon praised the law enforcement officers, and others who work in the criminal justice system and encounter gang members, for their commitment to a dangerous job of tracking and investigating people whose lives revolve around violence and ruthlessness.

The Sheriff said about 15 percent of the population at the Morris County Correctional Facility is gang-affiliated, with members hailing from street gangs, outlaw motorcycle groups, extremist and Sovereign Nation groups.

The Morris County Sheriff’s Office’s Gang Intelligence Unit, led by Detective Corporal Santana, routinely shares intelligence with other law enforcement agencies around the country, Sheriff Gannon said. A need for this type of sharing partnership was echoed at the conference by other speakers.

Edwin Alicea, Vineland City Public Security Director, speaking on Terrorism and Global Jihad at a training conference sponsored by the Morris County Sheriff's Office Gang Intelligence Unit
Edwin Alicea, Vineland City Public Security Director, speaking on Terrorism and Global Jihad at a training conference sponsored by the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Gang Intelligence Unit

“The main ingredient to overcoming the current gang epidemic that is plaguing our communities is knowledge,” Sheriff Gannon said. “The speakers that have been selected to instruct in the two-day training event bring a unique specialty of knowledge and expertise, and when coming together in this type of training event, the attendee is provided a powerful guide to continue the war on criminal street and prison gangs.”

The agenda for the conference, held May 28 and May 29 at The College of Saint Elizabeth in Morris Township, featured extensive presentations on the Trinitarios gang that originated in the Dominican Republic and is active in New York, New Jersey and other parts of the country; terrorism and global jihad; gangs and social media investigations; and trends in gang-powered  car and identity theft rings.

Detective Corporal Santana gave a presentation on his specialties: The United Blood Nation and the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation, the most criminally organized Latino gang in the world.

Presenter Idi Guity, Vice President of the East Coast Gang Investigators Association New York Metro Region, gave a chilling historic and modern-day overview of the Trinitarios gang, of which some members were charged in 2018 with the murder of 15-year-old Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz outside a Bronx, New York bodega.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking gang violence – like the horrific chase-down and murder of Lesandro Guzman-Feliz – can’t happen in a small town, Mr. Guity warned.

“What’s happening in our backyard is going to happen in your backyard. Sometimes they go off the radar but then they come back,” Mr. Guity said.

Mr. Guity, like other presenters, urged investigators to learn the origin and historical background down to the hand signals practiced by gangs they are monitoring. Get away from the office and learn the background, he said.

“You don’t get this information working at your desk,” Mr. Guity said.

Vineland City Public Security Director Edwin Alicea, who has been studying terrorism for more than a decade, gave an equally-chilling account of how virtually no part of the world has been left untouched by terrorism.

Mr. Alicea reminded conference attendees of more recent terrorist attacks in United States history: The bombings at the Boston Marathon in April 2013; the massacre in June 2016 at an Orlando, Florida nightclub; the murders of San Bernardino, California, Department of Health workers and their families at a Christmas party in December 2015.

Mr. Alicea, a United States Marine Corps veteran, gave an academic overview of what is known as “The Jihad Triangle,” and how the three factors of belief, knowledge and obedience combine to create an Islamic extremist whose mission is to “fight the unbelievers” while sacrificing his or her own life.

“There isn’t a corner of the world that hasn’t been touched by jihad,” Mr. Alicea said.

Based upon Homeland Security and other law enforcement reports, Mr. Alicea said, ISIS investigations and probes into Americans being radicalized and joining or trying to join ISIS, have now occurred in all 50 states.  Mr. Alicea also cautioned that no area is immune from a gang or terrorist attack.

“I’m so glad that mindset that it can’t happen here is retiring,” Mr. Alicea said.

 

 

 

Morris County Sheriff’s Office Shares “Cool To Be Kind” Vision With Normandy Park School Students

It’s not hard to hold the attention of young schoolchildren when you show them a Dutch Shepherd that can – like a circus performer – jump five feet to catch a rubber ball.

Morris County Sheriff's Office K-9 Section Detective Marc Adamsky demonstrates the skills of his K-9 partner, Tim, at Cool To Be Kind Community Day on May 29, 2019 at the Normandy Park School in Morris Township
Morris County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Section Detective Marc Adamsky demonstrates the skills of his K-9 partner, Tim, at Cool To Be Kind Community Day on May 29, 2019 at the Normandy Park School in Morris Township

 

“Higher! Higher!” a crowd of giddy kindergarten and first-graders at the Normandy Park School in Morris Township screamed Wednesday morning as Morris County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Section Detective Marc Adamsky demonstrated for them the skills of his K-9 partner, Tim, a 2-year-old Dutch Shepherd.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and Detective Adamsky joined police, firefighters and an emergency management coordinator at Normandy Park School as part of its “Cool To Be Kind” Community Day that introduced young students to the officials who help keep them safe.

Morris County Sheriff's Office K-9 Section Detective Marc Adamsky shows Normandy Park School pupils the talents of his K-9 partner, Tim, during Cool To Be Kind Community Day.
Morris County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Section Detective Marc Adamsky shows Normandy Park School pupils the talents of his K-9 partner, Tim, during Cool To Be Kind Community Day.

“Hi, I’m Jim. I’m your Sheriff,” Sheriff Gannon introduced himself to the students gathered outdoors, where earlier in the day they inspected Morristown and Morris Township patrol cars and a Morris Township Fire Department ladder truck.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon chats with pupils on Cool To Be Kind Community Day at the Normandy Park School in Morris Township
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon chats with pupils on Cool To Be Kind Community Day at the Normandy Park School in Morris Township

“We help your police. You heard from your police from the town of Morristown and Morris Township. And your firefighters. We help them with special things,” Sheriff Gannon said.

He explained that his office has a “SWAT” team, a crime scene unit and a K-9 section – all build-up to Tim’s appearance, which was met with a loud, collective “Aww.”

Morristown Acting Police Chief Darnell Richardson and his wife, Nikki, a teacher at the Normandy Park School, helped organize the event as the culmination of the K-5 school’s yearlong theme of being “Cool To Be Kind” by demonstrating caring, support and appreciation of others. The Morris Education Foundation sponsored the “Cool To Be Kind” initiative.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and K-9 Section Detective Marc Adamsky chat with pupils at the Normandy Park School in Morris Township on Cool To Be Kind Community Day held on May 29, 2019
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and K-9 Section Detective Marc Adamsky chat with pupils at the Normandy Park School in Morris Township on Cool To Be Kind Community Day held on May 29, 2019

Sheriff Gannon and Detective Adamsky fielded questions from the children about the Sheriff’s Office and Tim, while Morristown Police Lieutenant Keith Cregan, Morris Township Firefighter John Zaragoza, Morris Township Police Officer Robert Ribnicky and Morris County Office of Emergency Management Deputy Coordinator Keith Heimberg gave the children insight into their jobs and let them step inside their vehicles.

Lieutenant Cregan discovered that the children have a good idea of what robbers and speeders do.

“The kids also asked about tornados after last night’s alerts were sent out,” he said.

Detective Adamsky also related how the Morris County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Section transformed a frisky dog that wouldn’t behave into a first-class explosives-detecting K-9. A lesson, he said, that there is a place for everyone and everything.

 

 

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon Helps Unveil “Garden Of Hope” Outside Saint Clare’s Behavioral Health Facility in Boonton Township

The Thursday Night Family Support Group and Friends of Saint Clare’s Behavioral Health in Boonton Township realized a shared vision May 23 with a ribbon-cutting on a Garden of Hope where people can grieve, rejoice or reflect on loved ones who are struggling or have passed on from substance use or mental health disorders.

Garden of Hope dedication in Boonton Township
At the new Garden of Hope outside Saint Clare’s Behavioral Health facility in Boonton Township, from left: Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Caroline Bailey, Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Erica Valvano, Saint Clare’s Chief Executive Officer Brian Finestein, Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Nicola Inniss, Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Silvia (a parent), Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Alton Robinson, Saint Clare’s Behavioral Health Administrative Director Rebecca Light, and Mike Hart, facilitator for the Thursday Night Family Support Group at Saint Clare’s.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon was one of three guest speakers at the evening unveiling of the Garden of Hope that was built on a side lawn of the facility off Powerville Road that treats people with substance use and mental health diagnoses.

“We’ll never lose sight of the people in this garden,” Sheriff Gannon said to the crowd celebrating the locale for contemplation and relaxation.

Dedication of Garden of Hope in Boonton Township
At the dedication May 23, 2019, of a Garden of Hope outside Saint Clare’s Behavioral Health facility in Boonton Township, from left: Boonton Township Detective Chris Chicoris, Sergeant Tom Cacciabeve, Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Police Chief Michael Danyo, and Deputy Mayor Bill Klingener.

Attendees included Boonton Township Police Chief Michael Danyo, Sergeant Tom Cacciabeve, Detective Chris Chicoris and Boonton Township Deputy Mayor Bill Klingener; Saint Clare’s Hospital Chief Executive Officer Brian Finestein; and Rebecca Light, Saint Clare’s Administrative Director of Behavioral Health.

Sheriff Gannon’s signature Hope One mobile substance use recovery and resource vehicle was at the event, along with Hope One’s supervisor, Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Erica Valvano and Caroline Bailey, a certified peer recovery specialist who works aboard Hope One training people on how to administer the overdose-reversing antidote Narcan and advising them on treatment options.

Some in the close-knit Thursday Night Family Support Group, facilitated by Saint Clare’s Social Worker Mike Hart, have lost loved ones to drug and alcohol dependencies. Others joined the support group to learn about the disease of addiction and how to keep themselves healthy while helping relatives recover.

“I didn’t really know alcoholism was a disease before I joined the group. I thought ‘How can it be a disease? Just don’t drink,’” said Eveline Giessler, who lost her son, 42, in April 2018.

Garden of Hope dedication to Saint Clare's Hospital
The Garden of Hope, donated by the Saint Clare’s Thursday Night Family Support Group and Friends.

After Mike Hart proposed building a Garden of Hope, support group members were buoyed by the idea. Bednar Landscaping of Boonton Township donated labor, supplies and services to create the picturesque area.

Bluestone paving stones provide a walkway to the circular garden that is fitted with four long wooden benches surrounded by a perimeter of mulch and flowers.

The centerpiece is a large stone on which two plaques are attached. One plaque is etched with the Serenity Prayer; the second plaque bears an explanation of the Garden of Hope.

“The Garden of Hope is donated by the St. Clare’s, Thursday Night Family Support Group and Friends. We join together to offer support by sharing our knowledge, compassion and experiences with individuals, families and loved ones battling addiction and in recovery. We honor the memories of those we have lost. May we never lose hope.”

Sheriff Gannon gave the crowd an overview of the Hope One program and promised to continue helping substance users find paths to recovery – even if they’re incarcerated at the Morris County Correctional Facility – while targeting for-profit drug dealers.

“We need to be guardians on the other side. The simple user with the empty bag in his pocket. We need to take care of them. And we do that. We do that on the street. We do that at the jail,” Sheriff Gannon said.