Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon Applauds Officers and Non-Sworn Staff for Courage, Dedication and Mettle at 2019 Medal Day Ceremony

They saved lives on and off-duty in Morris County, exposing themselves to danger and risk of injury or harm.

Others honorably served the United States in the Armed Forces or advanced their educations and job skills while balancing work and family life.

From left, Morris County Sheriff's Office Bureau of Corrections Sgt. John Davidek, Sheriff's Office Detective Sgt. James Rae, Corporal Matthew Cilurso, Sheriff's Investigator Ashley Craig, Sheriff's Officer Frank Perez, Detective Lieutenant Walter Rawa and Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon at the November 15, 2019 Medal Day. The Officers were honored for their contributions to the Sheriff's RSVP-3 program.
From left, Morris County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Corrections Sgt. John Davidek, Sheriff’s Office Detective Sgt. James Rae, Corporal Matthew Cilurso, Sheriff’s Investigator Ashley Craig, Sheriff’s Officer Frank Perez, Detective Lieutenant Walter Rawa and Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon at the November 15, 2019 Medal Day. The Officers were honored for their contributions to the Sheriff’s RSVP-3 program.

Others contributed greatly to a program designed to keep students focused,   safe in the classroom, and empowered to contribute to a secure environment.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon on Friday, November 15, recognized and applauded notable achievements made by Agency Officers and non-sworn staff in the Bureaus of Law Enforcement and Corrections over the past 12 months, during his 2019 Medal Day ceremony held at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum.

Morris County Office of Emergency Management Director Jeffrey Paul, Commander of the county's Special Operations Group (SOG), Sheriff James M. Gannon and Detective Christina Kovacs were honored for saving a man's life in Jefferson Township under harrowing circumstances.
Morris County Office of Emergency Management Director Jeffrey Paul, Commander of the county’s Special Operations Group (SOG), Sheriff James M. Gannon and Detective Christina Kovacs were honored for saving a man’s life in Jefferson Township under harrowing circumstances.

The event that drew together Commanding Officers, colleagues, family members and friends was solemnized by the presentation of colors by the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Joint Honor Guard. Sheriff’s Office Detective Captain Denise Thornton and Bureau of Corrections Lieutenant Andrew Bileci announced the awards for Officers and staff in their respective bureaus while Sheriff Gannon handed out plaques and medals.

“In the most positive way, we are redefining the meaning and boundaries of being law enforcement Officers,” said Sheriff Gannon, Morris County’s 77th Sheriff. “I love the history of Morris County and I think we are adding to its outstanding history through our programs, the services we share with all 39 municipalities, and the ways we connect with the community.”

All award recipients were aware they would be honored at the ceremony except for Bureau of Corrections Captain Robert McCaffrey, a 25-year Officer who recently received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from County College of Morris and was given an award for educational excellence.

Greg Baxter, of the Morris County Sheriff's Office Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Unit, received an Exceptional Duty Medal from Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon at the November 15, 2019 Medal Day ceremony.
Greg Baxter, of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Unit, received an Exceptional Duty Medal from Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon at the November 15, 2019 Medal Day ceremony.

The Sheriff’s Achievement Medal was given to six Officers from both Bureaus for their significant contributions to a ground-breaking school safety program called RSVP-3, which Sheriff Gannon started in collaboration with the Morris County Chiefs of Police Association in 2018, immediately after the Valentine’s Day murders of students and teachers by a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Morris County Sheriff's Office Corporal Matthew Cilurso received Meritorious Service and Sheriff's Achievement Medals from Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon at the 2019 Medal Day ceremony on November 15, 2019.
Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Matthew Cilurso received Meritorious Service and Sheriff’s Achievement Medals from Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon at the 2019 Medal Day ceremony on November 15, 2019.

RSVP-3, which stands for Responsible School Violence Prevention, Preparation and Protection, has four components: Intelligence gathering through the Morris County Sheriff’s Trends and Analysis Team (MCSTAT); the RSVP-3 Morris County, NJ app through which students can anonymously report threats to school safety; Behavioral Threat Assessment and Management (BTAM) curriculum that guides school leaders, police and mental health professionals on behavioral warning signs; and tactical training on neutralizing active shooters in school, houses of worship and public institutions.

Morris County Sheriff's Office Detective Corporal Michael McMahon received Exceptional Duty and Honorable Service Medals for his prowess in the Agency's K-9 Section, during the 2019 Medal Day Ceremony on November 15, 2019.
Morris County Sheriff’s Office Detective Corporal Michael McMahon received Exceptional Duty and Honorable Service Medals for his prowess in the Agency’s K-9 Section, during the 2019 Medal Day Ceremony on November 15, 2019.

The recipients of the Sheriff’s Achievement Medal are: Sheriff’s Investigator Ashley Craig, who oversees the RSVP-3 app and BTAM training schedule; Sheriff’s Officer Frank Perez, Detective Lieutenant Walter Rawa, Detective Sergeant James Rae, Corrections Bureau Sergeant John Davidek and Corrections Corporal Matt Cilurso, who all are part of the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team (SERT) and train fellow Officers and Officers from other agencies on tactical responses.

Detective Sergeant Rae and Corporal Cilurso are specifically assigned on a daily basis to SERT, which is tasked with patrolling Morris County and ensuring that infrastructure sites, schools and houses of worship are protected.

The additional following Officers in the BUREAU OF CORRECTIONS received awards:

  • LIFE SAVING AWARD. Officer Richard Quinn. On May 22, 2019, he had left work and noticed a car on a sidewalk at an intersection in Morris Township. He parked, and noticed an unresponsive male in the driver seat. He attempted to awaken the man, who remained unresponsive, and tried but could not enter the locked car that was still in drive, with an asthma pump visible on the passenger seat. He called 911. With the assistance of other passing police officers, the vehicle was opened. Officer Quinn and a Morris Township Officer moved the male to the sidewalk where chest compressions and life-saving techniques were applied. He also assisted with directing traffic as the driver was transported from the scene by ambulance.
  • HONORABLE SERVICE AWARD. Corrections Sergeant Robert Doriety and Corporal Peter Lohmus. They were recognized for outstanding devotion to the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Motor Unit, which provides motorcycle security escorts for President Donald Trump, infrastructure checks, and, whenever needed and often upon late notice, motorcycle escorts and participation at public events and parades.
  • EXCEPTIONAL DUTY MEDAL: Corrections Officer Danielle Vandenbos. She achieved top honors during the firearms training portion of her Passaic County Basic Corrections class. She outperformed 21 of her fellow classmates to earn the “Top Shot” award.

The following Officers and non-sworn staff from the BUREAU OF LAW ENFORCEMENT, along with a recipient from a partnership Agency, received awards:

  • LIFE SAVING MEDAL.  Sheriff’s Office Detective Christina Kovacs and Morris County Office of Emergency Management Director Jeffrey Paul, who also is commander of the Special Operations Group (SOG) that provides medical support to SERT members.  On July 14, 2019, SERT and SOG responded to a reported shooting at a home in Jefferson Township, with the alleged perpetrator believed to still be at-large. One victim, speaking by telephone to Jefferson police, indicated he was wounded, that minors were in the house, and he did not know the whereabouts of the alleged shooter. SERT members, Jefferson Township police and SOG members Detective Kovacs and Commander Paul entered the home. While SERT and Jefferson police cleared the home and removed the minors, Detective Kovacs and Commander Paul rendered lifesaving medical treatment to the victim inside the home. Without hesitation in an extremely dynamic scene, they stabilized and transported the victim out of the “hot zone” and to a higher level of care.
  • MERITORIOUS SERVICE MEDAL. Corporal Matthew Cilurso. As a SERT member, he responded the evening of July 14, 2019, to a reported shooting at a home in Jefferson. Without knowing the whereabouts of the alleged shooter, a joint law enforcement decision was made to enter the home, remove minors and attend to a shooting victim inside the house. Corporal Cilurso was among the first law enforcement Officers to enter the home. Corporal Cilurso’s team cleared and secured the home, allowing for life-saving aid to be given to the injured victim and removal of the minors. He performed intelligently, with some degree of personal hazard of life, and under circumstances demonstrating a disregard of personal consequences.
  • HONORABLE SERVICE MEDAL. Detective Corporal Michael McMahon. On November 7, 2018, Detective Corporal McMahon and his K-9 Kaiser responded to a reported armed robbery in Boonton Township in which a handgun was displayed. While searching the area for suspects with K-9 Kaiser, Detective Corporal McMahon learned that one suspect had just knocked on a resident’s door requesting to use their phone. Two suspects were taken into custody and provided information about a third suspect, who allegedly carried the handgun. Without regard for his personal safety, Detective Corporal McMahon used K-9 Kaiser in an off-leash search before expanding the search area so that it extended to a wood line and the Rockaway River. K-9 Kaiser located and apprehended the final suspect, who was hiding in heavy brush. Detective Corporal McMahon and other law enforcement officers took the suspect into custody and searched for the weapon, ultimately using K-9 Kaiser to perform an off-leash evidence search of the area before the loaded 9mm handgun was found, wrapped in a sweatshirt and hidden behind a vehicle in the wood line.
  • EXCEPTIONAL DUTY MEDAL. Greg Baxter and Detective Corporal Michael McMahon. For a second time in his career, Greg Baxter has received the Exceptional Duty Medal. On September 30, 2019, a female left a facility in Morris Township and allegedly was the victim of a crime. The female reported the incident.  Greg Baxter, of the Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Unit, reviewed video footage to assist and identify the suspect and later developed a photo array.  His work enabled authorities to ultimately apprehend a suspect. His knowledge, time and efficiency have proven to be invaluable.

Detective Corporal McMahon received a second award on Friday – the Exceptional Duty Medal – for his participation on March 15, 2019, in the United States Police Canine Association Narcotics Detection Trial/Certification in Region 7.  The trial featured 18 K-9 teams from New York and New Jersey.  Upon completion, he and K-9 Kaiser were awarded third place for fastest time, first place for motor vehicle work, and second place overall. He achieved a highly credible ranking that brought acclaim to himself and the Sheriff’s Office.

 

 

 

  • NATIONAL DEFENSE SERVICE. Sheriff’s Officers Jonathan Feinberg and Robert Forte. Officer Feinberg honorably served with the United States Navy in 2012 in the Mediterranean Sea during Operation Enduring Freedom.  Officer Forte honorably served with the United States Marines in 2014 in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.
  • EXECUTIVE LEVEL LEADERSHIP TRAINING. Detective Captain Denise Thornton. She is a 2019 graduate of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police Command and Leadership Academy which prepares law enforcement Officers for challenges in the field during upcoming decades. The Academy offers a unique blend of theory and application, with a curriculum developed through the United States Military Academy at West Point. Leadership is studied as a science with logic, critical thinking, methodology and vision.
  • PROMOTIONS:

Gia DeVino, of the Sheriff’s Office Warrants Section, was promoted to Keyboarding Clerk 3.

Russell Moser, of the Sheriff’s Office Systems Support and Purchasing Unit, was promoted to Senior Systems Analyst.

Bhavna Patel, of the Sheriff’s Office CSI Section, was promoted to Keyboarding Clerk 4.

Katherine Petraccoro, of the Sheriff’s Office CSI Section, was promoted to Keyboarding Clerk 3.

 

 

 

 

National Expert On School Shootings Trains Educators, Mental Health and Law Enforcement Professionals On Threat Management Through Morris County Sheriff’s Office RSVP-3 Program

A nationally-renowned expert on school shootings on Thursday instructed a group of 80 police officers, school administrators and resource officers and mental health professionals in Morris County on how to build an evidence-based program to assess threats to school safety.

Dr. Marisa R. Randazzo, former Chief Research Psychologist for the U.S. Secret Service and managing partner of SIGMA Threat Management Associates.
Dr. Marisa R. Randazzo, former Chief Research Psychologist for the U.S. Secret Service and managing partner of SIGMA Threat Management Associates.

By terrible coincidence, former United States Secret Service Chief Research Psychologist Dr. Marisa R. Randazzo was training the group as part of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office’s RSVP-3 Program when shots  were fired at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California – allegedly by a 16-year-old student – killing two students and wounding at least three others.

RSVP-3, which stands for Responsible School Violence Prevention, Preparation, Protection, was launched in 2018 by Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and the Morris County Chiefs of Police Association shortly after the February 14, 2018, school shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

With funding from the Morris County Board of Freeholders and the federal Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), the Morris County Sheriff’s Office in 2018 hired Dr. Randazzo’s firm, SIGMA Threat Management Associates, to prepare an evidence-based behavioral threat assessment and management (BTAM) guide on how to identify, assess and manage threatening or seriously-disruptive behaviors in the school setting.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon at RSVP-3 training on November 14, 2019.
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon at RSVP-3 training on November 14, 2019.

Dr. Randazzo, who has helped train about 350 school leaders, resource and police officers and mental health professionals on BTAM in the past year through the RSVP-3 program, spent a full day Thursday instructing the group how to conduct a threat investigation, divert an individual from his or her “pathway to violence,” and assist in creating school environments where students are free from bullying and feel comfortable confiding in school officials about threatening behavior exhibited by others.

The training occurred at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy in Parsippany.

Thursday’s RSVP-3 training – ongoing since November 2018 – also occurred on the heels of last week’s release of a U.S. Secret Service Analysis of Targeted School Violence. The Secret Service report, which analyzed 41 incidents of targeted school violence that occurred in schools from 2008 to 2017, contained several conclusions that already are incorporated into the RSVP-3 training program.

The conclusions advised: the attackers in all 41 violent school incidents exhibited concerning behaviors; most, in a concept known as leakage, communicated their intent to attack in some way; and students, school personnel and family members should be urged to report troubling or concerning behaviors.

Participants at RSVP-3 training at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy.
Participants at RSVP-3 training at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy.

Dr. Randazzo led the group through the BTAM process which involves  identifying a subject whose behavior has caused concern, investigating and gathering relevant information about the subject in an ethical manner, assessing the situation based on the totality of the information, and managing the threat through intervention, supervision, or a monitoring plan designed to prevent further harm and mitigate the situation.

Dr. Randazzo said she believes many school shootings can be prevented, as did Sheriff Gannon, whose RSVP-3 program is multi-pronged to include the BTAM curriculum, an RSVP-3 anonymous tip-reporting app unveiled in October 2019, and tactical training for law enforcement officers.  RSVP-3, he said, is enhanced by his creation of a threat and intelligence-gathering unit called Morris County Sheriff’s Trends and Analysis Team (MCSTAT).

“These incidences are highly preventable through a fairly simple process where you get people to share concerns – when they see that report on social media, when a teacher sees something in a homework assignment that raises fear or concern about a student’s mental health  or emotional well-being. Bring that information forth to a threat assessment team, have them take a look, find out what else is going on,” Dr. Randazzo said.

“If we think that student is on what we call a pathway to violence, we can do some simple things to get them off the pathway to violence and prevent harm,” she said.

Sheriff Gannon said the ultimate goals are to avoid tactical responses, and “be left of bang” by thwarting violent plans before they solidify. Dr. Randazzo said many who commit acts of school violence are in despair and hope to die at a scene through “suicide by cop.” Sheriff Gannon added that through early intervention, troubled youths can be steered to mental health professionals and hopefully, be returned to school.

“Our mission should be, with students especially, to return them to chemistry class.  Return them to the football field. We’re not here to be punitive,” Sheriff Gannon said.

Dr. Randazzo’s training was interspersed with national examples of how actual plotted school attacks were thwarted, including one in which a young girl reported to the school principal a friend’s plan to bomb a school, though she felt heartsick at betraying a troubled companion.

Dr. Randazzo emphasized the need for a multi-disciplinary approach to building a BTAM team so it includes an array of people bringing information and perspectives to an assessment. She also noted the importance of students – and other concerned parties – having a mechanism or trusted school personnel to whom they can report threats or disturbing behavior.

“It’s a way of making sure people know they have the power” to help control safety in their schools, she said.

Thursday’s session was attended by law enforcement officers, school employees and school resource officers and mental health professionals from throughout Morris County, as well as Bergen and Union counties.

Union County Acting Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo attended, as did Baldwinsville, New York Police Chief Michael W. Lefancheck, past president of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police; Sergeant Rick Halloran of the Natick Police Department in Natick, Massachusetts, and Officer Willie Buntley of the Frederick Police Department in Frederick, Maryland.

 

Help The Morris County Sheriff’s Office Name Two Puppies Donated To Its K9 Section

It’s officially time to name two adorable puppies – a Labrador Retriever and a Belgian Malinois – that were donated to the Morris County Sheriff’s Office K9 Section.

A Belgian Malinois donated to the Morris County Sheriff's Office K9 Section.
A Belgian Malinois donated to the Morris County Sheriff’s Office K9 Section.

Please click on the link to view the two dogs, choose names that you think suit their good looks, include your name and email address, and click the submit button. https://morriscountynj.seamlessdocs.com/f/sheriffcontest

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Sheriff’s Office Detective Lieutenant Aaron Tomasini, who oversees the K9 Section, and Detective Corporal Michael McMahon will select the winning names.  The names contest will end Wednesday, November 13 at 5 p.m.

A Labrador Retriever pup donated to the Morris County Sheriff's Office K9 Section.
A Labrador Retriever pup donated to the Morris County Sheriff’s Office K9 Section.

We will let you know on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page how many suggestions were submitted, the creativity of monikers, and what the chosen names are.

Both puppies made their first visit Wednesday, November 6, to the Hodes Veterinary Group in Mine Hill Township, where Dr. Kris Conway and Veterinary Technician Jen Tomasini – the wife of Detective Lieutenant Tomasini — checked their weight, eyes, teeth, fur and overall health.  Both pups avoided shots on this visit.

The male Labrador Retriever is 10 weeks old and weighed 13.1 pounds on Wednesday.  His handler is Morris County Sheriff’s Office K9 Section Detective John Granato, who already has begun training the Labrador in explosives detection through odor recognition exercises.

The female Belgian Malinois, who weighed in Wednesday at 36 pounds, is five months old.  She is handled by Morris County Sheriff’s Office K9 Section Detective Mark Adamsky, who will train her in accelerant/arson detection and search and rescue.

“We are very grateful for the generous donations of these dogs – one that will be trained in search and rescue and accelerants detection and the second that will be trained in explosives detection.  These dogs are our partners in law enforcement and give us the ability to delve deeply into incidents in Morris County, whose 39 municipalities benefit from their skills,” said Sheriff  Gannon.

Morris County Sheriff's Office K9 Section Detective Marc Adamsky with a donated Belgian Malinois.
Morris County Sheriff’s Office K9 Section Detective Marc Adamsky with a donated Belgian Malinois.

K9 Section Detective Corporal McMahon said the specialized training will take up to six months before certification occurs. But both dogs will likely not start their official working careers until they are a year old and more mature.

The Labrador was donated to the Sheriff’s Office by Walter Quense, founder and trainer of onPOINT-K9 in Bernards Township.  The Belgian Malinois was donated by Jeff Riccio, founder and trainer at Riptide K9 in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Morris County Sheriff's Office K9 Section Detective John Granato with Veterinarian Dr. Kris Conway and a Labrador Retriever donated to the K9 Section
Morris County Sheriff’s Office K9 Section Detective John Granato with Veterinarian Dr. Kris Conway and a Labrador Retriever donated to the K9 Section.

Both donors have a professional relationship with Detective Corporal McMahon, who is an accomplished trainer and handler. The donations will save Morris County about $12,000 that otherwise would have been spent on new dogs for the K9 Section.

The K9 Section, which provides services to all 39 municipalities in Morris County, responds to more than 1,000 calls annually that include patrols, searches for missing people, fires, narcotics investigations and sweeps of public areas, festivals, concerts and large gatherings for explosive devices.