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Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and Police Chiefs Assure Jewish Chabad Leaders Their Safety Is A Priority, In Advance of High Holy Days

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and Police Chiefs throughout the county assured the Jewish community on Friday, Sept. 20, that their houses of worship are a security priority, particularly during High Holy Days.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon with Rabbi Levi Dubinsky, Director of the Chabad Jewish Center, at a security session on September 20, 2019.
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon with Rabbi Levi Dubinsky, Director of the Chabad Jewish Center, at a security session on September 20, 2019.

The Sheriff’s Office, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and other law enforcement agencies in Morris County have steadily been building a dialogue with Jewish communities and leaders of Chabad outreach centers and previously met with them in June.

A follow-up community meeting on Friday, facilitated by Morris County Sheriff’s Office Captain Denise Thornton, gave Rabbi Levi Dubinsky, director of the Chabad Jewish Center that serves Mountain Lakes, Boonton and Denville, an opportunity to express an ongoing need and the community’s appreciation for security measures taken on behalf of Jewish worshippers.

People of the Jewish faith will be observing two major Holy Days in the next few weeks: Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the most solemn time of prayer and atonement for Jewish people.   Rabbi Dubinsky said attendance at services swell during High Holy Days and Rabbis want worshippers to feel comfortable and safe.

“The first thing on everyone’s mind today is security. What security is there? What security measures are in place?” Rabbi Dubinsky said. He said all Chabad and synagogue leaders should make the effort to build a strong working relationship with local police, even if they employ private security officers.

From left, Morris County Sheriff's Office Detective Lieutenant Aaron Tomasini, Morris County Director of Emergency Management Jeffrey Paul and Morris County Sheriff's Emergency Response Team Commander Gino Fluri discuss security measures to protect the Jewish community and all houses of worship in Morris County.
From left, Morris County Sheriff’s Office Detective Lieutenant Aaron Tomasini, Morris County Director of Emergency Management Jeffrey Paul and Morris County Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team Commander Gino Fluri discuss security measures to protect the Jewish community and all houses of worship in Morris County.

“There should be an open door policy,” Rabbi Dubinsky said. Also representing the Jewish community at the event was Robert A. Wilson, Chief Security Officer for the Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest NJ.

In welcoming Rabbi Dubinsky, Sheriff Gannon presented him with credentials that identify him as a chaplain representing    the Jewish community.

Sheriff Gannon, acknowledging strong partnerships with the Prosecutor’s Office and local police departments, explained that all 317 houses of worship in Morris County, including 34 synagogues, are part of a directed patrol regimen performed by the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team (SERT), a highly-trained tactical unit that travels the county checking sensitive areas and infrastructure sites.

The Morris County Sheriff’s Trends and Analysis Team (MCSTAT) works with multiple agencies, including the Prosecutor’s Office, to analyze intelligence and identify patterns of crime, Sheriff Gannon said.  Jane Recktenwald, the Sheriff’s Systems Analyst who oversees MCSTAT, said more than 1,800 checks of religious institutions in Morris County have occurred so far this year and the diligence won’t cease.

“See something, say something. The littlest thing may be the most important thing,” Analyst Recktenwald said.

Sheriff Gannon said: “We always need to keep our eye on the ball. We have good intelligence, good partnerships, good people who can receive real time intelligence, with national security clearances.”

Butler Police Chief Ciro Chimento, president of the Morris County Chiefs of Police Association, discusses security for the Jewish Chabad community and all houses of worship in Morris County on September 20, 2019.
Butler Police Chief Ciro Chimento, president of the Morris County Chiefs of Police Association, discusses security for the Jewish Chabad community and all houses of worship in Morris County on September 20, 2019.

Prosecutor’s Office Lieutenant Jan Monrad advised that Jewish leaders consider contacting the Prosecutor’s Office to have security assessments performed on their facilities.   SERT Commander Gino Fluri suggested that synagogues, at their convenience, allow SERT members to familiarize themselves with the facilities through training sessions within their walls.

Commander Fluri, along with Morris County Office of Emergency Management Director Jeffrey Paul and Sheriff’s Office Detective Lieutenant Aaron Tomasini, a certified bomb technician, K-9 handler and member of SERT, emphasized the specialized training brought to the scene of every major incident.

“Our county is integrated. When we go on a call we bring every asset to that call,” Commander Fluri said.

As Rabbi Dubinsky urged Jewish leaders to reach out to their local police departments if they haven’t already, Analyst Recktenwald said all Morris County police departments will be alerted to the upcoming High Holy Days and urged to find out what services and special events are planned.

Sheriff Gannon noted in opening remarks at the meeting that terrorism remains a concern in affluent Morris County, and that he recently met a woman in Montville who told him she survived the Jewish Holocaust.

“We can take away their fears. That’s a lot of our jobs, to take away their fears.  It’s raw, it’s local.  We’re not here to scare anybody, but we’re here to say we have it well in hand,” Sheriff Gannon said.

The next community meeting between Jewish leaders and law enforcement agencies is tentatively planned for November.

Also attending Friday’s session were Mount Olive Police Chief Steve Beecher, Wharton Police Chief David Young, Morris County Park Police Chief Gabriel DiPietro, Morris County Sheriff’s Office Undersheriff Mark Spitzer, Chatham Township Police Chief Thomas Miller, Rockaway Township Police Chief Martin McParland, and Morris County Sheriff’s Office Detective Captain Mark Chiarolanza and Officer Travis Somerville.

 

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon Urges Stigma-Free Commitment to Curbing Addiction During Relay For Recovery in Morristown

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and his Hope One team joined dozens of resource and treatment providers on the Morristown Green Thursday, September 19, for “Relay for Recovery,” an event that united individuals struggling with addiction with the agencies equipped to help them.

Sheriff James M. Gannon speaks about programs in Morris County to curb opioid abuse during the Sept. 19th Relay for Recovery on the Morristown Green.
Sheriff James M. Gannon speaks about programs in Morris County to curb opioid abuse during the Sept. 19th Relay for Recovery on the Morristown Green.

Sheriff Gannon, one of the keynote speakers, detailed the multiple programs in his office that directly assist people with opioid addictions. He praised the commitment of others, including Superior Court Judge Michael E. Hubner and staff who work with the Morris and Sussex Drug Court program, and supporters of the stigma-free approach to assisting people with mental health and substance use disorders.

“Stigma-free. That’s where we need to be. Don’t judge people. Don’t judge people by the first five minutes you meet them. You don’t know what their troubles have been,” Sheriff Gannon told the crowd.

The Morris County Sheriff's Office Hope One mobile substance use resource and recovery program at Relay for Recovery in Morristown on Sept. 19.
The Morris County Sheriff’s Office Hope One mobile substance use resource and recovery program at Relay for Recovery in Morristown on Sept. 19.

Thursday’s Relay for Recovery – a mini-festival of music, poetry, yoga, motivational speeches and recovery stories – was sponsored by the Alumni Association of the Morris County Drug Court, the Community Coalition for Safe & Healthy Morris, the Center for Addiction Recovery, Education & Success (CARES), and LIFE Center Stage.

A team of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Hope One mobile substance use resource and recovery program was at the event to offer free Narcan training and guidance on drug treatment options and mental health programs.  The Hope One team at Relay for Recovery included Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Erica Valvano, Peer Recovery Specialist Carrie Bailey from CARES, and Al Shurdom, coordinator of self-help, advocacy and education for the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris.

From left, Adam Nardelli, Melissa Maney and Sierra McEniry, managers of the Morris County Sheriff's Office Successful Transition and Re-Entry (STAR) program during Sept. 19 Relay for Recovery on the Morristown Green.
From left, Adam Nardelli, Melissa Maney and Sierra McEniry, managers of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Successful Transition and Re-Entry (STAR) program during Sept. 19 Relay for Recovery on the Morristown Green.

Working alongside Hope One was Navigating Hope, a partnership between the Morris County Department of Human Services, its Office of Temporary Assistance, and Family Promise of Morris County. The mobile Navigating Hope assists people in need of social services that include housing assistance, Food Stamps, general assistance, Medicare and veteran’s services.

Also at the event were Melissa Maney and Sierra McEniry, who manage the Successful Transition and Re-Entry (STAR) program started under Sheriff Gannon at the Morris County Correctional Facility. The STAR booth offered “insights from inmates” – written vignettes on their lives and advice for avoiding trouble and incarceration.

The STAR program, a collaboration between the Correctional Facility and the Morris County Department of Human Services, connects inmates approaching release with jobs, housing programs, Medicare, temporary assistance, and other social services and tracks the progress of inmates for one year after their release.

Through STAR, the Sheriff explained, inmates also can arrange for Vivitrol injections every 28 days to block cravings for opioids.  The Sheriff also detailed the origins of the Hope One program, the Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative (PAARI), and the Hope Wing at the Correctional Facility, which assists inmates with at least 85 life and coping skills, repairing familial relationships, and managing anger and unhealthy cravings.

The crowd applauded when the Sheriff noted he recognized three graduates of the Hope Wing at Relay for Recovery.

“We know that over 50 percent of the inmate population is there because of their addiction. So what are we doing about it? We’re dealing with it, with stellar curriculum being offered,” the Sheriff said.

He credited Drug Court, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, and other agencies that collectively offer the mosaic of services that address substance use and mental health needs. And, the Sheriff commended the work of CARES and the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris that account for the success of the Hope One program.

“Hope One’s been a magical ride in many ways. We have a great partnership with CARES and the Mental Health Association to bring services to people. For too long we’ve been pulling people to brick and mortar where now we bring services to people. The at-risk population, people without support. We can’t forget about the people without support,” Sheriff Gannon said.

 

Morris County Sheriff’s Officers and Staff To Dress As Ghouls To Aid Charity That Helps Families In Distress

Members of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office will dress and pose as gruesome characters to help the non-profit organization Halos for Angels Inc. scare up visitors to its annual, month-long “Fright Factor” Haunted House attraction.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon announced the continuing partnership with the Florham-Park based charity that eases the financial and emotional stress on families confronted with unexpected tragedies such as loss of a loved one, or job, or an illness diagnosis.

Morris County Sheriff's Officers and Staff To Dress As Ghouls To Aid Charity That Helps Families In Distress

Sheriff Gannon will cut the ribbon on opening night of the Haunted House at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, October 4.  The 3,000-square-foot Haunted House – which is available for children’s Fright Factory parties – is in the process of being set up at 186 Ridgedale Avenue in Florham Park.

Officers and civilian staff from the Sheriff’s Office Bureaus of Corrections and Law Enforcement are signing up to don macabre costumes and play ghoulish roles for opening night and the 11 additional weekend days and nights the Haunted House is open during the month of October.

In past years, Correctional Facility Corporal Peter Lohmus, Sergeant Raymond Dykstra, Sergeant Shawn Johnston and Lieutenant Michael Schweizer have most often volunteered to thrill the crowds with their imitations of fiends.

This year, Correctional Facility Sergeant Andrew Bileci – who was honored in June as a volunteer “Angel” for Halos for Angels, Inc. – said he plans an acting role at the Haunted House.

“The Morris County Sheriff’s Office’s partnership with this worthy organization, Halos for Angels, is a great way for Officers to have fun and entertain the community while knowing they are easing the burden on people in crisis,” Sheriff Gannon said.

Karen M. Casolaro, a mother of five, founded the organization in 2010 as a way of thanking the community of Florham Park that was there for her and her family with daily meals after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  The charity’s mission is to directly help families and people in the community who are impacted by a crisis.

Fright Factor opens October 4 with the 6:30 p.m. ribbon-cutting by Sheriff Gannon before the house is open from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. to visitors who dare to roam its rooms for an entrance fee of $10.

On Saturday, Oct. 5, there is a 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Kid-friendly Family Fun Festival followed by the 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. trek through the Haunted House, dubbed “Massive Scare.”

On Sunday, October 6, a Kid-friendly Family Fun Festival is planned from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

For further times of Fright Factor’s weekend events through Sunday, Oct. 27, please visit: www.HalosforAngels.org.