Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon is partnering with New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal on a virtual session to educate youths, parents and all interested individuals on the latest essential information of how the abuse of opiates and recreational use of opioid-related drugs, including heroin, can have devastating consequences.
The session will take place on Tuesday, October 20, between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., with plenty of time to ask questions.
Also participating in the session are Tracy Klingener, Director of Suicide Prevention Services for the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris, and Kelly LaBar, a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist for Prevention Is Key-CARES.
Sheriff Gannon is the co-founder of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Hope One mobile substance use and mental health services program. The Hope One team, which recently has begun outreach to Morris County’s homeless population, has made more than 15,000 contacts with individuals in the community and trained 2,900 people in the use of Narcan to reverse an opioid-induced overdose.
Nineteen Officers from the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Bureaus of Corrections and Law Enforcement – along with K-9 Kai, a Belgian Malinois – on Friday shared a nearly 8-mile leg of the 37th annual Law Enforcement Torch Run to benefit Special Olympics NJ.
“I’m truly proud of the Officers from both Bureaus of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office who care about advancing an honorable and significant cause like the Special Olympics, which is close to many of our hearts,” said Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon.
The Sheriff and Bureau of Law Enforcement Undersheriff Richard Rose stopped by with encouraging words at Headquarters Plaza in Morristown, where 15 Officers from the Bureau of Corrections gathered to receive the torch. Clad in matching T-shirts bearing the Special Olympics Torch Run logo, the Officers ran a 3.7-mile leg around the Morristown Green and down Route 202 to Zamrok Way in Morris Township.
There, they passed the torch to four Officers from the Bureau of Law Enforcement, including K-9 Section Detective Corporal Michael McMahon, who ran with K-9 Kai. Together, they were dubbed #TeamKai, and captured the title in March 2020 of “America’s Top Dog” by winning the A&E Network’s reality show series of the same name.
Detective Corporal McMahon and Kai were joined in their 3.7-mile leg of the Torch Run to the Olde Mill Inn in Bernards Township by Sheriff’s Office Chief Kelley Zienowicz, Sergeant John Rospond and Sheriff’s Investigator Ashley Craig.
In a show of great camaraderie, some of the Bureau of Corrections Officers continued running with the Bureau of Law Enforcement team after reaching Zamrok Way. The team passed the torch to two Harding Township Officers, Michael Resciniti and Nick DeMaio, while enroute to the Olde Mill Inn. Ultimately, the torch was passed by Morris County Sheriff’s Officers to Bernards Township Officers.
On one stretch of the run, Morris County Sheriff’s Officers ran back to support an Officer participating in the event who had fallen behind.
Officers contributed at least $100 apiece to participate, with all proceeds going to Special Olympics NJ. The Torch Run – which extends nearly 80 miles from High Point State Park in Sussex County to the College of New Jersey in Ewing Township – is normally held in June to formally kick off the opening ceremony of the Summer Special Olympics NJ. The event was canceled due to COVID-19 but the Torch Run was rescheduled as a fundraiser to support the cause.
This year’s runners from the Bureau of Corrections were Lieutenant Andrew Bileci, Lieutenant Michael Schweizer, Sergeants Brian Kooger, Rob Horvot and Leon Pollison, and Officers Heather Russell, Gina Figliuolo, Nicole Levendusky, Justin Sudol, Kristin Murphy, Eric Brauner, Ada King, Jillian Schweizer, Raymond Miller and Manny Flores.
Morris County Sheriff’s Office Detective Sergeant Dave Kenny and Corrections Bureau Sergeant Robert Doriety, along with an Officer from the Hanover Police Department, provided a motorcycle escort along the route. The motorcade following the runners included New Jersey State Police and Morris County Sheriff’s Office vehicles.
The Morris County Sheriff’s Office Hope One team showed its ingenuity and determination to assist homeless individuals this week by trekking through wooded sections of four municipalities where the homeless community has been known to congregate.
The Hope One team was accompanied on its four-hour excursion on September 29 by two members of the Morris County Navigating Hope program who work for the county Office of Temporary Assistance and connect clients with Food Stamps, housing sources, Medicaid, temporary assistance, and other services.
With gentle and amiable demeanors, team members announced their approach when they saw tents and individuals in the woods, offered services, and distributed drawstring bags loaded with water, granola bars, toiletries and other items. They also carried blankets donated by the Sisters of Christian Charity in Mendham.
The teams left behind toiletry bags and business cards if the tent sites weren’t occupied, but at one location, they encountered several individuals with whom they chatted briefly and offered descriptions of social services the individuals might need.
“Morris County is one of the wealthiest counties in the United States and rich with compassion for people in need. We had at least 354 documented homeless individuals in Morris County in January of this year, and we know that substance abuse and mental health disorders are often at the root of homelessness. That’s where Hope One comes in, with a stigma-free approach and linkages to treatment, rehab and recovery services,” Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon said.
The teams are planning additional outreach efforts to the homeless communities next month. Tuesday’s hikes into the woods by Hope One team members represent a natural expansion of its mission: to immediately connect individuals struggling with substance use and mental health disorders to treatment and services.
Since Hope One started venturing on April 3, 2017, into communities at least twice a week, the teams have made 14,628 contacts in 481 stops. They have trained 2,834 people on how to administer Narcan to reverse an opioid-induced overdose and linked 192 people to rehab and recovery programs and another 157 people to mental health services.
Beyond its core services, the Hope One teams have also assisted victims of domestic violence and distributed thousands of toiletry bags, hand warmers and snacks in addition to the free Narcan kit that every person receives upon completing the Hope One training.
The homeless outreach was conducted by Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Erica Valvano, the Hope One Coordinator; Sheriff’s Officer Chelsea Whiting, Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Caroline Bailey of the Center for Addiction Recovery, Education & Success (CARES), and Mental Health Advocate Al Shurdom of the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris.
Morris County Office of Temporary Assistance Employees Antonella McGee and Julio Porrao represented Navigating Hope on the homeless outreach.
As most counties across the United States do annually to maintain eligibility for federal housing funds, Morris County participated in January 2020 in NJCounts 2020, the yearly Point-In-Time Count of the Homeless that provides a snapshot of households experiencing homelessness, where they find shelter and what factors contribute to their lack of housing.
The 2020 survey concluded there were 354 persons experiencing homelessness on the night of January 28, 2020, in Morris County. The count showed a 9 percent decrease in the number of homeless individuals from 2019. The count included people who were on the street, living in emergency shelters, safe havens or transitional housing as of January 28, 2020.