Morris County Correctional Facility Inmates Will Soon Be Able to Connect With Relatives Through Virtual Visits While COVID-19 Restrictions Continue

     Inmates at the Morris County Correctional Facility who haven’t received visits in more than four months because of COVID-19 restrictions will soon be able to connect with family and friends through wireless tablets.

The Correctional Facility, which is run by the Morris County Sheriff’s Office and houses inmates from both Morris and Sussex counties, was provided at least 85 Android tablets by GTL, a leader in technology and wireless solutions for correctional facilities.

From left, Morris County Sheriff's Office Corrections Lieutenant Michael Schweizer, Corrections Sergeant Raymond Dykstra and Corrections Sergeant Shawn Johnston with a tablet, one of more than 75 that Morris County Correctional Facility inmates will be able to access to have virtual visits with relatives and friends.
From left, Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Lieutenant Michael Schweizer, Corrections Sergeant Raymond Dykstra and Corrections Sergeant Shawn Johnston with a tablet, one of more than 75 that Morris County Correctional Facility inmates will be able to access to have virtual visits with relatives and friends.

Although inmates can telephone relatives and friends, the Correctional Facility on March 16 temporarily suspended in-person inmate visits with family to minimize the spread of COVID-19.  The restriction currently remains in effect and has dispirited some inmates, Morris County Correctional Facility Warden Christopher Klein said.

Warden Klein noted that the tablets do not cost taxpayers any money. The cost of the tablet visit time spent by inmates is withdrawn from their commissary accounts by GTL. Inmates who lack funds will be allotted $3.75 a week from a special inmate welfare fund to engage in a 15-minute virtual visit with relatives.

“In these trying times it’s very beneficial for inmates to have supportive contact with family,” Warden Klein said.

“At no cost to taxpayers, this program will allow inmates important contact with caring relatives who can help ease stress and isolation the inmates may feel,” Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon said.

Beyond virtual visits, the tablets also can be used to access approved educational and entertainment materials and in-house request forms. When visitation restrictions are lifted, inmates may also use the tablets to virtually visit with relatives and friends who live out-of-state or cannot make in-person visits to the Correctional Facility.

Morris County Correctional Facility in Morris Township, NJ
Morris County Correctional Facility in Morris Township, NJ

Correctional Facility Lieutenant Michael Schweizer and Sergeants Raymond Dykstra and Shawn Johnston have been spear-heading the tablet project and working with GTL on fine-tuning operational aspects.

Multiple safeguards are in place for use of the tablets:

  • They run on GTL’s network security, a full-featured security access control software;
  • Virtual visits can only be initiated by family and friends outside the facility;
  • The tablet cameras used for virtual visits are operational only in secure visiting booths and not from within inmate cells;
  • Features that could present potential security risks have been removed and inmates have no access to core device settings other than volume, rotation and brightness control.

Virtual visits will be allowed on the same days and times that in-person visits were permitted before the suspension. Use of the tablets for educational or entertainment purposes can occur whenever inmates are not locked in their cells at specific times.

Regardless of the criminal charges they face, all inmates will have access to the tablets as long as they are in compliance with Correctional Facility rules.

Family and friends who wish to make virtual visits with an inmate at the Morris County Correctional Facility can go to www.gettingout.com/create-account to create an account to access the video visitation.  Once the account is set up, funds can be deposited at www.gettingout.com/deposit-funds.

 

Morris County Sheriff’s Office Welcomes New Officers Tyler Bartol and Michael Smith

Two new Morris County Sheriff’s Officers whose Basic Police Training Class was interrupted for 10 weeks during the COVID-19 pandemic were officially sworn in to their positions Monday, July 20, by Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon.

Newly-sworn Morris County Sheriff's Officers Tyler Bartol and Michael Smith
Newly-sworn Morris County Sheriff’s Officers Tyler Bartol and Michael Smith

Tyler Bartol of Roxbury and Michael Smith of Jefferson took the oath of office surrounded by family in the Historic Courtroom of the Morris County Courthouse after graduating the 94th Basic Police Training Class at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy on July 16.

Sheriff Gannon, who was joined at the swearing-in by agency Command Staff, noted that an official graduation ceremony did not occur at the Academy because of the ongoing healthcare crisis.  Sheriff’s Officers Bartol and Smith are beginning their careers at a particularly challenging time, the Sheriff said, with COVID-19, broad economic fluctuations, protests and civil unrest in parts of the country.

Morris County Sheriff's Officer Tyler Bartol is sworn in to the position on July 20, 2020 by Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon.
Morris County Sheriff’s Officer Tyler Bartol is sworn in to the position on July 20, 2020 by Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon.

The Officers, among 38 graduates, started the Basic Police Training Class on January 13.  The class was put on hold on March 19 and recruits were allowed to return on June 1, more than two months later. During the unexpected class break, Officers Bartol and Smith were among the recruits who assisted the Morris County Office of Emergency Management with tasks related to operation of the Morris County COVID-19 Drive-Thru test site on the County College of Morris campus in Randolph Township.

“I know you’ve gotten here against all odds,” Sheriff Gannon said. “You’ve joined a great family in law enforcement. So, make a difference.  Make THE difference.”

“I think there are good things on the horizon but these are challenging times,” the Sheriff said. He urged family members to support the new Officers, who may not always be able to celebrate holidays or festivities because of work duties. The Sheriff said that he, in turn, will always be supportive of the Officers.

Morris County Sheriff's Officer Michael Smith is sworn in to the position on July 20, 2020 by Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon.
Morris County Sheriff’s Officer Michael Smith is sworn in to the position on July 20, 2020 by Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon.

Officers Bartol and Smith are assigned to the Protective Services Division, which is responsible for protection of judges and security in and around the Morris County Courthouse complex. Between March 30 and June 26, many of the Officers assigned to PSD were reassigned to security and traffic control at the Morris County COVID-19 test site, and transporting samples to a laboratory.

Officer Bartol is a Roxbury High School graduate who attended County College of Morris and earned a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from Rutgers University.  He was hired by the Morris County Sheriff’s Office after working as a dispatcher for the Morris County Communications Center.

Officer Smith is a graduate of Jefferson High School who attended County College of Morris then Moravian College, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in sociology/law and society.

Newly sworn Morris County Sheriff's Officers Tyler Bartol and Michael Smith with Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and command staff.
Newly sworn Morris County Sheriff’s Officers Tyler Bartol and Michael Smith with Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and command staff.

A college lacrosse player, Officer Smith coaches high school lacrosse and worked in the construction field before being hired by the Sheriff’s Office.

Officer Bartol was joined at the swearing-in by his parents, Laura and Geoff Bartol, and brothers Trevor and Ryan.  His uncle, John McGuinness, is a retired Morris Township Police Chief.

Officer Smith was joined by his parents, Michael and Jill Smith, his sister Justina Smith, his grandmother, Kathleen Van Orden, and his girlfriend, Dana Monte.

 

 

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon To Participate In Virtual Webinar On Recovering From Substance Use Disorders During COVID-19

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, whose administration has made combating the opioid epidemic and its toll on individuals and families a priority, is a panelist in an upcoming  the upcoming virtual webinar about the challenges and solutions for providing recovery support services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

Please see the release below about the webinar, provided by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, and how to register:

NJ Frontline Fighters Against Opioid Addiction to Hold Virtual Webinar to Share Challenges, Solutions for Providing Recovery Support Services during the COVID-19 Pandemic

July 23rd Webinar is Second in Four-Part “Knock Out Opioid Abuse” Series

MILLBURN, NJ — The Knock Out Opioid Abuse Webinar Series will turn its focus to recovery from opioid addiction in its upcoming webinar, “Substance Use Disorder Recovery During COVID-19: Perspectives from the Front Lines,” being held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, July 23.

The webinar is part of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey’s Knock Out Opioid Abuse initiative and is the second of four webinars being held in collaboration with the New Jersey Coordinator of Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies (NJ CARES) and the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General.

The webinar will focus on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on recovery, as observed by professionals on the front lines of the law enforcement, medical and recovery fields.

“As the COVID-19 crisis continues, it is imperative that we work together to prevent isolation and other mental health stressors from claiming even more lives,” said Attorney General Grewal. “These webinars provide an opportunity for all of us involved in the fight against addiction to share resources and to remind everyone that treatment and recovery services remain open and available during the pandemic.”

“Supporting recovery is a vital part of solving the current opioid epidemic facing this country and, like many other aspects of everyday life, has been disrupted by the pandemic,” PDFNJ Executive Director Angelo Valente said. “This webinar will provide participants a better understanding of how to address challenges to recovery and the resources available to help those who are struggling or have struggled with addiction.”

Speakers will include Morris County Sheriff James Gannon; Dr. Erin Zerbo, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and Director at the Northern NJ Medication-Assisted Treatment Center of Excellence; and Morgan Thompson, M.S.W., Chief Executive Officer of Prevention Links.

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, through its philanthropic arm, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, has been collaborating with PDFNJ on a two-year Knock Out Opioid Abuse initiative to address the opioid epidemic through community outreach, prescriber education, parent education and a statewide awareness campaign.

The Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall Series brings together experts on the opioid epidemic from various fields, including law enforcement, the medical community, government, prevention, treatment and recovery for events throughout the state. PDFNJ and Horizon have expanded the initiative in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, offering a webinar series to help continue the conversation about the opioid crisis.

In 2019, 3,021 people in New Jersey died from suspected drug overdoses, a vast majority of those deaths involved some form of opioid.

PDFNJ and Horizon kicked off their collaboration with NJ CARES and the Office of the Attorney General with a June 11 webinar featuring Attorney General Grewal. The final two webinars of the collaborative series are “Prescribing Opioids in the Time of COVID-19,which will be held on August 20 and “Athletes and Opioids: The Impact and Risks,which will be held on September 24.

To learn more about the Knock Out Opioid Abuse initiative and to register for the webinar, please visit https://knockoutopioidabuse.drugfreenj.org.

 

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Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey: Best known for its statewide substance use prevention advertising campaign, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey is a private not-for-profit coalition of professionals from the communications, corporate and government communities whose collective mission is to reduce demand for illicit drugs in New Jersey through media communication. To date, more than $100 million in broadcast time and print space has been donated to the Partnership’s New Jersey campaign, making it the largest public service advertising campaign in New Jersey’s history. Since its inception, the Partnership has garnered 180 advertising and public relations awards from national, regional and statewide media organizations.

About Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey: Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, the state’s oldest and largest health insurer is a tax-paying, not-for-profit health service corporation, providing a wide array of medical, dental, vision and prescription insurance products and services. Horizon BCBSNJ is leading the transformation of health care in New Jersey by working with doctors and hospitals to deliver innovative, patient-centered programs that reward the quality, not quantity, of care patients receive. Learn more at www.HorizonBlue.com. Horizon BCBSNJ is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association serving more than 3.4 million members.

 

About The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey: The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey is committed to working alongside those who can help us improve our neighbors’ health, inform their health decisions and inspire them to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives. The Foundation’s funding pillars are Caring, Connecting and Creating. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is the sole member of The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, both of which are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, please visit www.Horizonblue.com/Foundation