Morris County Sheriff’s Office Hosts High-Stress, High-Risk K-9 Encounters Class For Handlers and Their K-9 Partners

The Morris County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Section is hosting a critical, three-day class for its Officers and K-9 Officers around the state that focuses on the readiness of Officers and their canine partners in high-stress, high-risk street encounters.

Morris County Sheriff's Office K-9 Detective Mike Carbone controls K-9 Partner Loco during a simulated apprehension exercise on September 25.
Morris County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Detective Mike Carbone controls K-9 Partner Loco during a simulated apprehension exercise on September 25.

The seminar – which combines rigorous hands-on field work with classroom instruction – is presented by Girard “Jerry” Bradshaw, CEO and training director of Tarheel Canine Training Inc. in Sanford, North Carolina.

On the seminar’s first day this week, participants received reams of practical advice from Director Bradshaw on traits to consider when selecting dogs for use in K-9 units, and on vigorously preparing dogs for successful deployment in high-risk situations.

“You need dogs with intensity and horsepower,” Director Bradshaw said. “You want to pick a dog that can handle the work, not necessarily one the handler will like.”

He remarked that some of the best dogs are rejected for K-9 training because they are older or battered, with an ear or tail missing, but said they are sometimes the best choice because of experience and intensity during apprehensions.

Morris County Sheriff's Office K-9 Detective Marc Adamsky prepares to put a muzzle on his K-9 Partner Tim during a training exercise on September 25.
Morris County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Detective Marc Adamsky prepares to put a muzzle on his K-9 Partner Tim during a training exercise on September 25.

Morris County Sheriff’s Officers – along with Officers from Hillsborough, the Passaic and Union County Sheriff’s Offices, New Jersey State Police, State Corrections Special Operations Group, and the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office – are taking the class.  The Morris County Sheriff’s Officers include Detective Lieutenant Aaron Tomasini, Detective Corporal Michael McMahon, Detectives Mike Carbone, Marc Adamsky, John Granato and Dave Marshall, and Officer Frank Perez.

After time in the classroom at the Morris County Public Safety Academy, the instructor sent hours observing and correcting Officers on K-9 obedience and on suspect apprehension tactics. The Morris County K-9 Academy grounds were used for hands-on training, along with a multi-storied building on the Public Safety Academy grounds that is used for fire and tactical classes.

Director Bradshaw used his knowledge of failed deployments of canines as teaching tools and urged robust training of dogs with decoys – Officers posing as perpetrators – so the canines physically experience in training what they may encounter in real life with a suspect who tries to fight back the dog.

He also stressed the importance of dogs learning to be “neutral” and focused when back-up Officers are present so that they do not mistake an Officer for a perpetrator. And, he said, dogs must be comfortable and focused among large groups of people so that commands from handlers are clearly obeyed.

Morris County Sheriff's Office K-9 Detective Dave Marshall with K-9 Partner Ollie during a training session on September 25.
Morris County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Detective Dave Marshall with K-9 Partner Ollie during a training session on September 25.

The first day of training involved Officers, outfitted in protective “bite” suits, serving as decoys, or mock suspects, who were apprehended by the dogs because they refused to come out of hiding or yield to police. In one scenario to correct dogs from being distracted, Detective Granato held a large stuffed pony in front of himself as a barrier the dog was supposed to disregard in its apprehension goal.

The Morris County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Section, overseen by Detective Lieutenant  Tomasini, is recognized as a premier unit, with 11 dogs handled by seven detectives currently in the section. Some of the dogs have successfully apprehended suspects – who are given warnings to stop or come out of hiding in advance of a canine being deployed – while some dogs in the unit are certified in patrol, but still gaining experience.

Detective Corporal Michael McMahon said that sometimes the mere presence of a police dog at a tumultuous scene is enough to calm emotions.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon stopped by the class to emphasize the need for skilled K-9 teams and their importance in assisting local police departments. Morris County Sheriff’s Office K-9 detectives, he said, respond to about 1,000 calls a year, many in the middle of the night.

The Sheriff also expressed his pride in his K-9 Section.

“The K-9 Unit in the Morris County Sheriff’s Office?  It’s second to none, and I mean no disrespect to any other offices when I say that,” he said.

A lighter moment in the training came when some dogs twisted and averted their heads as their handlers tried to put muzzles on their faces. The dogs may wear muzzles during training to protect decoys from bites. Director Bradshaw recommended handlers practice slipping the muzzle onto the dog’s face every chance they get and even letting the dogs eat out of the muzzle so they grow to enjoy it.

 

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon Shares Memories of Caring for His Late Wife With United Way of Northern New Jersey Caregivers Coalition

The ability to laugh, strong family bonds and a resolve to take life day-by-day pulled Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon through many years of care-taking for his late wife, Lisa Gannon, before she passed from multiple sclerosis.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon recently shared his story of caring for his late wife, Lisa, with the United Way of Northern New Jersey's Caregivers Coalition.
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon recently shared his story of caring for his late wife, Lisa, with the United Way of Northern New Jersey’s Caregivers Coalition.

At the invitation of the United Way of Northern New Jersey Caregivers Coalition, Sheriff Gannon shared a deeply personal story at a recent Coalition meeting about how he coped with his beloved wife’s illness while working full-time as a law enforcement officer and raising a daughter.

“She was one of those women who understood me when I didn’t understand myself,” said Sheriff Gannon, who unabashedly refers to his late wife as “the love of my life.”

“She was a cool woman. I can’t say enough about her. She made me a better person. She was beautiful, intelligent, kind and compassionate,” he said.

Lisa Gannon, a triplet, was a registered nurse and administrative director of cardiology with Atlantic Health System when she started feeling fatigue, having back pain and other symptoms in the mid-1990’s. After multiple tests and consultations, Sheriff Gannon said, his wife was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis which most directly impaired her ability to breathe.

Lisa Gannon continued to work for Atlantic Health Systems for three years with the diagnosis until she stopped working in April 1998, when her daughter was eight. Sheriff Gannon said his love and admiration for his wife and daughter, coupled with humor and supportive relatives with whom he shared household tasks and caregiving, kept him afloat.

Lisa Gannon, with daughter Kate, died in May 2010.
Lisa Gannon, with daughter Kate, died in May 2010.

The Sheriff’s wife of 26 years died on May 28, 2010.

Sheriff Gannon recommended that caregivers take time to care for themselves also. He said others stepped in so he could visit friends or watch a ball game, and he vividly remembers all the times he returned home to the sound of laughter as his mother, Genevieve, made his wife chortle.

He said his daughter, Kate, didn’t know her mother well as a healthy person so he tried to fulfill the role of both parents.

“Although there are challenges in raising a child in that environment I think there’s a lot of good. There’s compassion, love, family values and commitment, if you want to see it,” he said.

The Sheriff pantomimed for the caregivers and service providers at the meeting how he went dress shopping with his daughter and tossed clothing over a dressing room door.

“I tried to do Mom and Dad and I think I did a pretty good job at it but it’s not the same. It’s not the same in things like dress shopping.  I’m at the dress shop in the city with my daughter. I’m like the only Dad at Kleinfeld’s and I loved every minute of it. But a caregiver has to take on multiple jobs in the home, right?” he said.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon with friends at a September meeting of the United Way of Northern New Jersey's Caregivers Coalition.
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon with friends at a September meeting of the United Way of Northern New Jersey’s Caregivers Coalition.

The Sheriff advised caregivers they may feel judged or criticized for living day-by-day instead of planning for the future.

“People would ask ‘What do you think about the future?’  I was trying to get through today.  And, today’s a lot,” he said.

“I tell people to work in ‘operational periods.’ I always tell people don’t think too far ahead. There is strategic planning and things like that but you have to deal with the moment and make that as comfortable as you can for the patient, for children that are in the house, and yes, for yourself,” Sheriff Gannon said.

 

For more information about the Caregivers Coalition, click www. UnitedWayNNJ.org/CaregiversCoalition.

 

The Slogan “If You See Something, Say Something” As Relevant Today As It Was After September 11, 2001

The simple phrase “If You See Something, Say Something” – coined a day after the September 11, 2001, terroristic attacks – is as meaningful today as it was 18 years ago.

Image Attribution: U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Image Attribution: U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Wednesday, September 25, is National If You See Something, Say Something Awareness Day. Whether you are at home, school, work, the grocery store, on a train or plane, the phrase is a universal reminder to stay alert for suspicious activity or threats, either explicit or implied.

It’s a motto that Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon has incorporated into agency mandates and initiatives, including protection of the Morris County Courthouse Complex, the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team (SERT), and his Responsible School Violence Prevention, Preparation and Protection (RSVP-3) program.

Sheriff Gannon adds his own ending to the slogan: “If You See Something, Say Something, Do Something.”

The Morris County Sheriff’s Office also has significant ties and partnerships with other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies through which intelligence is shared.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon

“Ordinary, law-abiding people can play a significant role in thwarting violence by paying attention to their surroundings, trusting their instincts, and reporting activity, including Internet activity, that raises alarms in their minds. Don’t expect someone else to sound the alarm,” Sheriff Gannon said.

The six-word phrase was the 2001 idea of a Manhattan advertising agency chairman for use by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The security awareness slogan quickly caught on, and was licensed to the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for use in a national security campaign.

In July 2010, DHS launched the campaign in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative (NSI), with the goal of training state and local law enforcement to recognize behaviors and indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime.

The DHS website further explains the national campaign and particular actions and behavior that can be considered suspicious, including individuals or groups who make threats against people or institutions, individuals who have an unusual interest in videotaping or photographing infrastructure and public or government buildings, weapons collection, and testing a facility’s security or IT systems to gauge weaknesses.

For more information on National “If You See Something, Say Something” Awareness Day, go to

www.dhs.gov/see-something-say-something/about-campaign/seesay-day#.