Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and two Sheriff’s Officers were among the special community guests who were blessed onstage and introduced to 2,300 worshippers gathered at Christ Church in Rockaway Township on Friday, July 26, for its powerful, one-day Prayerfest 2019.
Worshippers representing more than 70 nationalities gathered at the non-denominational Christ Church on Green Pond Road for a day of prayer, music, singing, healing and unburdening themselves of past sins.
Sheriff Gannon, Sheriff’s Officers Kayla Santos and Travis Somerville joined Rockaway Township Mayor Michael Puzio, Rockaway Township Police Chief Martin McParland, Dover Mayor James Dodd, Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Supervisor Spence Osaigbovo and other civic leaders as special guests of the Prayerfest.
Christ Church Lead Pastor, the Reverend Dr. David Ireland, called the guests onstage in the church sanctuary and had them introduce themselves individually to the worshippers during a portion of the Prayerfest labeled “A Call To Our Community.”
Sheriff Gannon told church officials that his role is a peacekeeping one and all 317 churches and houses of worship in Morris County, regardless of the denomination, are sacred and protected through directed patrols conducted by his office and local police.
“I am honored to be recognized so graciously by Christ Church, a valuable part of the community that is always generous when others are in need and fills the spiritual needs of thousands of people in northwest New Jersey,” Sheriff Gannon said.
Christ Church, with nearly 9,000 congregants between its locations in Rockaway Township and Montclair, has brought people together for a festival of prayer for the past five years in the township.
Participants of the 2019 Morris County Public Safety Youth Academy on July 23 simulated breaching doors, clearing rooms of hidden gunmen, and carrying injured people to safety – all the real-life duties and threats for which their instructors regularly train.
The 34 participants spent part of Tuesday – the second day of the weeklong academy for youths in grades 9 through 12 – in the burn building and other structures at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy that specifically were built for law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical services responders to practice life-saving skills.
Members of the elite Morris County Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team (SERT), the Morris County Special Operations Group (SOG) and the Morris County Office of Emergency Management partnered to offer academy participants hands-on instruction on how fitness, teamwork and many hours of training give those specialty response teams the ability to respond and serve the public.
In a building known as the Tower on the Public Safety Training Academy grounds, SERT Team Leader and Sheriff’s Office Corporal Jamie Rae had youths wear night vision binoculars as they prowled pitch-dark rooms for a missing person.
In the burn building – which doubles as a training ground for firefighters and police practicing active shooter scenarios – Morris County Sheriff’s Officer and SERT Team Leader Frank Perez and Bureau of Corrections Corporal and SERT Team Leader Matt Cilurso showed the youth Academy cadets how to effectively work as a team to clear rooms of active shooters.
In a massive firehouse-like structure on the Academy grounds, OEM Director and SOG Commander Jeffrey Paul worked with SERT member and Morris County Park Police Officer Christian DiGiralomo and Morris County Sheriff’s Office Systems Analyst Jane Recktenwald in helping youths navigate a complicated obstacle course that emphasized fitness, speed, clarity of mind, and agility during an emergency.
The obstacle course involved youths dragging a sked rescue device bearing a wounded mannequin, moving a heavy tire with a sledge hammer, carrying a Sheriff’s Office SERT ballistic shield while dashing around cones, carrying a second mannequin to safety, completing an eye-hand coordination game within 30 seconds, and then scurrying up a staircase to hoist a fire hose from the ground to the top of the staircase.
Morris Township Police Officer and SERT Member Whitney Burk showed participants how to lift, carry and swing a steel ram to breach a door. For some, the task was more difficult than it looked.
“The Morris County Public Safety Youth Academy is an outstanding, eye-opening forum for young people to learn whether a career in law enforcement, firefighting, emergency medical services, or emergency management is a path they want to pursue. Beyond that decision, the academy offers a rare glimpse into the hazards these professionals face every day to keep people safe,” Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon said.
The Morris County Public Safety Youth Academy is sponsored by the Board of Freeholders and is free of charge to cadets. The Academy is a distinctive program that exposes cadets to the myriad facts of the public safety field. Sheriff Gannon will be the keynote speaker at the cadet graduation on Friday, July 26.
The Morris County Sheriff’s Office Hope One mobile substance use resource and recovery vehicle has achieved a program milestone by making its 300th stop in the community since its launch on April 3, 2017.
Hope One, overseen by Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Erica Valvano, started out Monday, July 22, at the monthly recognition breakfast for service providers and recovering substance users hosted by the Rockaway-based Center for Addiction Recovery, Education & Success (CARES).
Hope One then parked before noon at the Rockaway Boro Plaza and set up a table laden with coffee, pastries, snacks and brochures about treatment options that serves as a welcoming beacon to anyone who wants to inquire about opioid addiction and treatment programs. Within minutes, CARES certified Peer Recovery Specialist Kelly LaBar was inside the Hope One vehicle, instructing a man whose friend is struggling with heroin addiction on the use of Narcan to reverse an opioid overdose.
After 300 stops – and serving as the prototype for mobile Hope One programs in Newark, Atlantic, Cape May and Monmouth counties and assisting Hudson and Burlington counties in developing their own Hope One mobile programs – the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Hope One program has maintained its momentum as a stigma-free resource committed to stemming heroin use and life-threatening dependence on opioids.
“The Morris County Sheriff’s Office and its Hope One partners – CARES, Daytop NJ, and the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris – are dedicated to providing this non-judgmental resource that accepts people where they’re at clinically and helps steer them to treatment options. Hope One, also, is always there to support the non-users — the families and friends who agonize over a loved one’s opioid dependency – through Narcan training and guidance on recovery options,” Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon said.
Since April 3, 2017, Hope One has made contact with more than 7,700 individuals and Narcan-trained more than 1,830 people. At least 143 people have been directed to rehabilitation or recovery programs and another 102 people have received guidance and resources on mental health treatment programs.
On Monday at the Rockaway Boro Plaza, three people were trained on the administration of Narcan, including a woman in recovery, the friend of a struggling heroin user, and a Jefferson Township councilwoman who is on the township rescue squad. Another woman, struggling with a mental health disorder and the death of her son, received help from Sara Musikoff, the Mental Health Association case worker on board Hope One.
Hope One’s stop on July 22 was in tandem with a stop made by Navigating Hope, a mobile social services program run by the Morris County Department of Human Services and the non-profit Family Promise of Morris County.
CARES Associate Director Melody Runyon had praise for Hope One’s longevity.
“The synergy of all the talented and passionate people who provide services has really created a positive change in regard to attitudes about addiction as well as provided access to invaluable resources. Morris County Prevention is Key (PIK) and CARES are honored and
humbled to have been part of the project since its creation,” Associate Director Runyon said.
Hope One’s upcoming stops in Morris County include July 25 at the Community Soup Kitchen, 36 South Street, Morristown; July 29 at Trinity Lutheran Church’s Faith Soup Kitchen, 123 E. Blackwell Street, Dover; and August 1 from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Free Produce Market, Salvation Army, 76 North Bergen Street, Dover.
Several other special events that will spotlight help for substance use disorders are planned in Morris County:
The Michael Wallin Memorial Golf Classic, in memory of a 32-year-old man who died by overdose, will be held August 9 at the Knoll Country Club in Boonton. All proceeds will benefit CARES and the Michael Wallin Memorial Foundation. For further information, contact Vance Mulholland at 973-830-0727 or Russell Wallin at [email protected].
An International Overdose Awareness Day ceremony will be held on August 28 from 1 to 3 p.m. on the Morristown Green.
In observance of International Overdose Awareness Day, a ceremony to honor the memory of those who died by addiction and those suffering with substance use disorders will be held on August 31 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Beginning with a light breakfast at CARES, 25 W. Main Street, Rockaway, and proceeding to Donatoni Community Park, 231 W. Main Street, Rockaway.