Morris County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Corrections Officer Camille Mastroeni on Monday graduated the demanding, 11-week-long 19th Basic Course for County Corrections Officers, the only woman in the class to successfully finish.
Officer Mastroeni, who is married to Boonton Police Officer Joseph Bolcar, who is currently deployed with the United States Army National Guard, also is the sole graduating Officer to work for the Morris County Correctional Facility.
Officer Mastroeni ranked second in her class in firearms proficiency.
The 19th Basic Course started with 31 recruits but only 16 completed the rigorous course of academics, physical fitness and firearms training. Fourteen graduates work for Hudson County Corrections and one Officer is employed by the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office.
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon was the keynote speaker and passed out course certificates to the graduates as their families and friends applauded and cheered in the auditorium of the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy.
The course is run by Academy Director Daniel Colucci and the Morris County Department of Law and Public Safety. Of 64 classes in firearms training, defensive tactics, fire training, first aid/CPR, physical training and academics, 57 of them were taught by Morris County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Corrections Officers.
“I would suggest these Officers walk the toughest beat in America,” Sheriff Gannon said in his remarks.
He said the Corrections profession is increasingly seeing more inmates with mental health disorders.
“It is not an easy job and it is one that requires intelligence, tact, diplomacy, sensitivity, restraint, hard work and a lot of common sense in dealing with some of the more difficult persons in society, and which this training at the Academy helped prepare you to do,” Sheriff Gannon said.
He noted that familial support is essential for a Corrections Officer to flourish and said Officers at the Morris County Correctional Facility treat each other like family.
Officer Mastroeni, whose sister, parents and grandparents were present for her graduation, said she gritted her teeth and survived the extensive curriculum, frequent tests, and physical fitness regimen.
“My challenge was pushups. You have to have perfect form,” she said.
Correctional Facility Superior Officers were present for the graduation, including Undersheriff Alan J. Robinson and Warden Christopher Klein. The graduates were escorted into the Academy auditorium by the Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard and bagpipers.
Besides Officer Mastroeni, the graduates are: Luis A. Arroyo, William N. Arroyo, Julio Aybar Jr., Cesar Beltran, William S. Borke IV, Gilberto delRisco, David A. Houghton, Frank Madrid, Marko Nakhla, Deuny Pena, Desmen Richardson, Roger Ruiz, Gregory Russell, Rashon Tyson-Butler, and James Ventre.
The Morris County Correctional Facility was found to be 100 percent compliant with 270 mandated state standards during a recent five-day surprise inspection of the facility overseen by Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon.
Darcella Patterson Sessomes, Assistant Commissioner of the Division of Programs and Community Services within the New Jersey Department of Corrections, alerted Morris County Correctional Facility Warden Christopher Klein by letter that the facility fully passed an inspection that pertains to the year 2018, though it was conducted from October 7 through October 11, 2019.
“You and your staff are congratulated on this achievement and are to be commended for the efforts made in preparation for this inspection. The hard work and dedication by the staff of your facility was evident to the members of the inspection team and certainly deserves special recognition,” Assistant Commissioner Sessomes wrote.
The Correctional Facility is run by the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Corrections, one of two Bureaus in the Agency. Corrections Officer Mike Chereches oversees the annual inspection by the New Jersey Department of Corrections and maintains a detailed power-point presentation that assists the inspectors in determining compliance.
The inspection – which facility Officers anticipated without knowing precisely when it would occur – included a tour of the 19-year-old facility, interviews with Officers, civilian staff and inmates, and examination of policies and procedures that detail the finest points – even light wattage and screw sizes used in plumbing fixtures.
The inspection, conducted to determine compliance with the requirements of New Jersey Administrative Code Title 10A:31, covered all aspects of maintaining a secure facility for adult inmates, including: planning and design, emergency procedures, security and control, personnel, access to courts, protective custody, visits, inmate clothing and hygienic living, medical and dental health services, and all other facility components.
“I am very proud of the vigilance of Officers and staff at the Correctional Facility who ensure, every single day, that the facility is secure and spotless and that inmates are guaranteed humane, lawful and safe treatment,” Sheriff Gannon said.
The Correctional Facility, which opened on May 25, 2000, is a six-story building of 157,478-square-feet of space. The structure includes eight housing pods totaling 277 cells with a maximum capacity of 524 inmates. There is a full-service kitchen, laundry, administrative offices, K9 kennels, intake/processing area, staff training room, religious, educational and exercise facilities and a medical and nursing unit.
The average daily population for inspection year 2018 was 191 men and 30 females. In 2019, the Morris County Sheriff’s Office reached a shared services agreement with the Sussex County Sheriff’s Office under which Sussex County inmates are housed in Morris County at a cost to Sussex County of $105 per day per inmate.
Currently, there are 225 inmates in the Morris County Correctional Facility; 153 are housed on Morris County charges and 72 are housed on Sussex County charges.
The Morris County Correctional Facility has gone beyond the mandated state inspection requirements by voluntarily undergoing accreditation processes by private, non-profit accrediting groups.
The facility in January 2019 was accredited for a sixth consecutive time by the American Correctional Association, mastering standards for jails on nutrition, security, cleanliness and quality of life.
The facility also is accredited by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care.
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and founding partners in the Hope One mobile substance use recovery program tonight, October 29, received an esteemed award for their public-private venture from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the largest professional association of police leaders in the world.
On behalf of Hope One, Sheriff Gannon accepted the 2019 IACP/Security Industry Association Michael Shanahan Leadership in Public/Private Cooperation Award on October 29, at the IACP’s Annual Banquet in Chicago, Illinois, from 2019 IACP President Paul M. Cell, the Montclair State University Police Chief.
“Hope One was based on a simple concept of treatment providers and specialists bringing critical recovery and resource services directly to people who may be too exhausted, frightened or overwhelmed by addiction to seek help on their own. Hope One, with its steadfast, compassionate team, has saved lives and is committed to keep doing so,” Sheriff Gannon said.
The Morris County Sheriff’s Office and its Hope One partners – the Rockaway-based Center for Addiction Recovery Education and Success (CARES), Daytop New Jersey, Prevention is Key (PIK) and the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris – are the collective recipients of the award named in honor of retired University of Washington Police Department Chief Michael Shanahan.
The non-profit Family Promise of Morris County, which specializes in finding emergency and permanent housing for homeless individuals and families, came aboard Hope One after its launch to make sure clients had essential toiletries and assistance in finding housing.
The award bestowed by the Security Industry Association and IACP, a global organization that prepares the next generation for the future of law enforcement, recognizes outstanding achievements in the development and implementation of public/private partnerships to promote public safety.
Sheriff Gannon was joined at the IACP Annual Banquet – the culmination of the 2019 IACP Annual Conference and Exposition – by Morris County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Law Enforcement Undersheriff Mark Spitzer, Sheriff’s Office Corporal Erica Valvano, the coordinator of Hope One, and Madine Despeine-Udoh, the Director of Self Help, Advocacy and Education for the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris.
Corporal Valvano and Director Despeine-Udoh are core Hope One professionals, along with Kelly LaBar, a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist from CARES.
Recognizing that opioid overdose deaths were reaching dire levels, Sheriff Gannon in January 2017 brought together law enforcement, substance use and mental health specialists for a solution.
The result, after just three months of planning and the formation of a partnership between law enforcement and non-profit agencies, was the launch of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Hope One program on April 3, 2017.
Hope One is a mobile substance use recovery and resource outreach vehicle that was retrofitted out of a defunct SWAT vehicle. With $15,000 from drug forfeiture funds, the vehicle was stripped of all law enforcement markings and painted white and purple, a color symbolizing recovery. Its license plates read: Hope One.”
Hope One travels at least twice a week, and often on weekends, to locations in Morris County that are known for opioid overdoses, homeless encampments, community soup kitchens, and areas where at-risk populations are known to congregate.
With the help of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office and the Hope One staff, the city of Newark and counties of Burlington, Atlantic, Cape May and Monmouth have replicated Hope One and are on the road.
As of October 28, 2019, the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Hope One mobile program has logged 1,629 hours on the road in 356 stops. The staff has had at least 9,516 contacts with individuals, trained 2,075 people in how to reverse an opioid overdose with Narcan, and assisted 154 people in getting into rehab and recovery programs and linked another 118 people with mental health services.
With a stigma-free approach and toiletries, snacks and beverages to put visitors at ease, the Hope One staff from the start has made a new contact every 10.8 minutes. Individuals who request Narcan training aboard Hope One are given a free Narcan kit to take home, and 38 people have returned the used kits to Hope One after using the Narcan to reverse an overdose.
“Hope One, led by Sheriff Jim Gannon and his team, is the best example of a best practice between criminal justice and the substance use disorders treatment and recovery communities,” said James Curtin, Chief Executive Officer of Daytop New Jersey.
“Daytop New Jersey is grateful to play a part in this tremendously effective effort to get persons desperately needing treatment – as opposed to incarceration – connected to life-saving treatment,” Mr. Curtin said.
CARES, a project of the non-profit Prevention Is Key (PIK), has provided the critical expertise of Peer Recovery Specialists and its access to treatment providers to greatly bolster the success of Hope One. As has the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris since many people struggling with substance use disorders have a co-occurring mental health disorder.
“Hope One, under Sheriff Gannon’s leadership, has provided life-saving and life-changing services to the Morris County community. We are honored at the Mental Health Association to be a part of it,” said Robert Davison, the Association’s Chief Executive Officer.
Melody Runyon, Associate Director of PIK, said she sensed from the start that Hope One would be impactful.
“Prevention is Key and CARES are thrilled with the recognition by the International Association of Chiefs of Police of both the Hope One project and its collaborative partners,” Associate Director Runyon said.
“From the early planning days, when key stakeholders gathered at CARES to bring Hope One to life, we knew it would be something special. Hope One began as an admirable vision to change the way we help people in Morris County,” Associate Director Runyon said.
“We wanted to bring services directly to those most in need and to reduce the stigma associated with the disease of addiction and mental health disorders. I believe Hope One has surpassed what any of us had envisioned both within Morris County and the state of New Jersey,” she said.