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Retired Officer Who Survived Horrific Shooting Inspires Police to Stay Strong, Keep Loved Ones Close

Retired Irvington Police Sergeant Kenneth Hogan, who 25 years ago survived being shot in the head, spine, shoulder and hand, offered a fiery and emotional strategy Tuesday for police officers to follow every day of their dangerous profession.

Know your vehicle like your own body and resolve to live with the philosophy “I’m not going to let them kill me,” Sergeant Hogan told a group of 100 law enforcement officers gathered at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy for his presentation “Surviving An Armed Encounter.”

Sheriff Gannon and Ken Hogan
From left, Morris County Sheriff’s Office Undersheriff Mark Spitzer, Butler Police Chief Ciro Chimento, retired Irvington Police Sergeant Kenneth Hogan, and Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon

Yet, if death is approaching, fill your mind with thoughts of loved ones, Sergeant Hogan advised, as he alternately raged about the deaths of police officers before becoming tearful as he confessed he can hardly bear to attend any more funerals for fallen officers.

“Who will you think about the moment you’re taking your last breath? Make that person part of your plan to live,” he said.

The seminar was hosted by Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and the Morris County Office of Emergency Management as both an inspiration for preparedness and a reminder of the perils of police work.

The presentation is Sergeant Hogan’s gift to law enforcement, and one he has delivered around the country, including to the FBI National Academy. His seminar Tuesday was filled with anecdotes about his impoverished upbringing in Irvington and how he passed a troubled early youth before an Irvington police officer changed the course of his life by forcing him to work as a dispatcher for a rescue squad and then persuaded him to apply to the police force.

Kenneth Hogan
Retired Irvington Sergeant Kenneth Hogan, who was shot 25 years ago, gives an inspirational, courageous seminar to police at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy on April 23, 2019.

Sergeant Hogan’s mentor, the late Irvington Officer Anthony Garaffa, was on-duty when he was shot to death in 1984 by a local man who inexplicably pulled a sawed-off shotgun on him.

“Tony, my super hero, made me a man. He made me a respectable human being,” Sergeant Hogan said. As crime, homicides, car chases and use of crack cocaine, started in the 1980’s to change the once-bucolic culture of Irvington, Sergeant Hogan said, he began to resolve each day that he wouldn’t die.

“Clear your head and have a plan to live,” he advised.

A decade after Officer Garaffa’s death, Sergeant Hogan – though he then was a patrol officer – was on-duty and parked in Irvington on Jan. 24, 1994, by a known crack house when a young man wearing a hoodie walked slowly toward his police car. Sergeant Hogan said he watched the man and called out to him as the man walked behind his police vehicle.

In that instant, the hooded man fired a bullet from a Sig Sauer into the Sergeant’s patrol car. Hogan said he heard more pops getting closer and dropped to the floor of his car with a plan to ease open a door and snake his way out. But he misread the direction the shooter was coming from and opened the wrong door.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon with retired Irvington Sergeant Kenneth Hogan
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon presented retired Irvington Police Sergeant Kenneth Hogan with a plaque of appreciation for his “years of outstanding service to the law enforcement community and for your unwavering dedication to duty.”

Another bullet hit his hand, one passed through a makeshift bullet-proof vest to hit the base of his neck and another bullet was fired through his skull. In all, 19 bullets were fired by the gunman who took his own life moments later.

“It’s over. I’m at peace. It’s over, I’m finally at peace,” Sergeant Hogan recalled thinking at the time. But his desire to live and get married in 41 days was still with him, he said.

“I think I’m hearing the humming of angels,” Sergeant Hogan said. “Then I realize, oh my God, I’m not going to heaven. I’m in an MRI machine.”

The bullet to his skull miraculously penetrated the center of his brain, causing no permanent damage though he suffered excruciating migraines for months.

Ultimately, he returned to the Irvington police force and retired in 2005. He currently works as an agent for the Union County Prosecutor’s Office while giving his lecture to law enforcement groups around the country.

“No doubt you survived so you could save lives every day,” Sheriff Gannon told Sergeant Hogan, after presenting him with a plaque of appreciation for his “years of outstanding service to the law enforcement community and for your unwavering dedication to duty.”

 

 

 

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and Mount Arlington Police Chief Keith Licata Advise Senior Citizens Of Tips For Avoiding Financial Scams

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon joined Mount Arlington Police Chief Keith Licata in educating residents of Nolan’s Ridge adult community on how to keep their money and personal information safe from scams.

Mount Arlington Police Chief and Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon
Mount Arlington Police Chief Keith Licata, right, and Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon gave a presentation to residents of Nolan’s Ridge in Mount Arlington on how to avoid financial scams.

One of the most common scams against senior citizens continues to be that of a person posing as a grandchild in trouble and persuading a grandparent over the telephone to send money via MoneyPak, Western Union or other methods, the Sheriff and Police Chief said.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon at Nolan's Ridge
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, center, teamed April 17 with Mount Arlington Police Chief Keith Licata on a talk to residents of Nolan’s Ridge community about keeping finances safe from fraud.

Their talk April 17 in the clubhouse of the Mount Arlington community for people 55 years of age and older covered multiple other topics, including the Morris County Sheriff’s Project Lifesaver Program and the borough’s prescription pill drop-off box.

But how to keep finances safe was a focal point of the talk, part of the community’s Live, Laugh, Learn series for residents. Mount Arlington Councilman Stephen Sadow said half the borough’s population of 5,300 people are 50 years of age and older, and the borough is home to three age-restricted communities and one assisted-living facility.

Always beware of solicitations for money made over the telephone, including from people purporting to collect for law enforcement agencies, which don’t fundraise over the phone, the Sheriff said. Don’t even necessarily trust caller ID, as criminals can spoof the number to make it appear they are calling from a local bank, government office or police department.

“Always feel free to say no and hang up. It’s not rude, it’s shrewd,” Sheriff Gannon said.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Mount Arlington Police Chief and Councilman at Nolan's Ridge.
From left, Mount Arlington Police Chief Keith Licata, Mount Arlington Councilman Stephen Sadow, and Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon at Nolan’s Ridge clubhouse before a talk to senior citizens about keeping finances safe from scammers.

Always lock home and car doors and never let a stranger into the house, even if they say they are there to check the gas meter or want to talk about a great price on repaving the driveway.

“Some of these things can be stopped at the door,” Sheriff Gannon said. He noted that scammers may work in pairs so that one person keeps the homeowner occupied while the second person steals belongings from rooms.

Be particularly cautious of solicitations for money or personal information sought through emails. Individuals should call their bank or credit card company to see if the email or communication is valid. Indications that emails are fraudulent include misspellings and inflated tones of urgency.

Don’t pay for products and services in advance and beware of “free gifts” that come with the caveat that taxes must be paid before the “free gift” is available, the Sheriff and Chief warned.

Another heartless ploy, they said, involves fraudsters monitoring obituaries and then calling the widow, widower or relatives to claim the deceased owed them money.

Chief Licata advised collecting as much information as possible during suspected fraudulent calls, including any phone numbers provided and personal identifiers about the caller, such as gender and name provided.

Scammers like to prey on older people, who may be lonely and vulnerable, and financial frauds can increase over holidays, the Chief and Sheriff said.

“They’re trying to get your heartstrings around the holidays,” Sheriff Gannon said.

Morris County Sheriff’s Office Hope One Vehicle Visits Montclair To Help Opioid-Dependent Individuals Reclaim Their Lives

The Morris County Sheriff’s Office Hope One mobile recovery and resource vehicle debuted Thursday at Glenfield Park in Montclair, where the program received a nod of approval from Montclair State University Police Chief Paul M. Cell, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and Paul M. Cell in Montclair
From left, Montclair State University Police Chief and President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Paul M. Cell with Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon beside Hope One at Glenfield Park in Montclair on April 18, 2019.

Hope One, which launched in Morris County on April 3, 2017, spent five hours at the park at the request of Montclair Deputy Police Chief Wilhelm Young and Detective Sergeant Charles Cunningham, who are seeking ways to stem overdoses by individuals who are addicted to opioids, including heroin and fentanyl.

Chief Cell, president of the world’s largest professional association for police leaders, stopped by the park Thursday afternoon to meet with Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Undersheriff Mark Spitzer and the Hope One staff.

“I think by making it simple and focusing on the guardian roles of police on the issues of addiction and mental illness in our communities, it really helps community members understand, support and come forward if they’re in need of help,” Chief Cell said.

“I think Hope One clearly has the elements that are needed to be a successful program that could be taken to the national level,” Chief Cell said.

Hope One at Glenfield Park in Montclair on April 18, 2019
At Glenfield Park in Montclair with the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Hope One Vehicle on April 18, from left, are: Morris County Undersheriff Mark Spitzer, Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris Director of Self-Help, Advocacy and Education Madine Despeine, Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corporal and Coordinator of Hope One Erica Valvano, Montclair Police Department Detective Sgt. Charles Cunningham, Montclair Deputy Chief Wilhelm Young, Family Promise of Morris County Care Navigator Ashley Reed, Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Montclair Police Chief Todd Conforti, CARES Peer Recovery Specialist Caroline Bailey, and Montclair Fire Department Chief John Herrmann.

Both Chief Cell and Deputy Chief Young noted the simplicity of the program, which was duplicated in 2018 by the city of Newark which created its own Hope One-Newark program.

The Morris County Sheriff’s Office Hope One is a retrofitted SWAT vehicle that was stripped of all police markings, painted white and purple and adorned with the words Hope One and the logos of its partners: Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris Counties, Center For Addiction, Recovery, Education & Success (CARES-NJ), and Family Promise of Morris County.

In Morris County, the vehicle parks bi-weekly in neighborhoods where drug overdoses and drug sales are documented. In non-judgmental style, the staff – Sheriff’s Office Corporal Erica Valvano, and professionals from the partnerships – put out snacks, coffee and toiletry bags and encourage people to board Hope One for Narcan training and information and referrals to detox and substance use recovery facilities, and mental health programs.

“I think it’s genius,” said Montclair’s Deputy Police Chief Young.

“For this idea to come from law enforcement, that’s another way of bridging the gap between community and police,” he said.

Sheriff Gannon said he was thrilled Chief Cell stopped by and that the Montclair police requested Hope One’s presence in the Essex County-owned Glenfield Park.

“As a society, we all can have a part in helping people reclaim their lives from drug dependency. Because police are familiar with people in their towns who are struggling with addiction, they’re in perfect positions to help guide them to resources,” Sheriff Gannon said.

Hope One in Montclair on April 18, 2019
The Morris County Sheriff’s Office Hope One Vehicle at Glenfield Park in Montclair on April 18, offering snacks and coffee to visitors who want Narcan training and information on substance use disorders and treatment, and mental health and social service resources.

 

On Thursday, CARES peer recovery specialist Caroline Bailey trained 7 people on how to administer the nasal spray Narcan to a person in the throes of an overdose. They included a man who knows two people who overdosed, and a mother whose daughter overdosed in front of her and continues to struggle with heroin dependency.

Others who visited Hope One in Montclair picked up brochures and literature, including two nurses.

Since April 2017, Hope One has had contact with 6,517 individuals, trained 1,703 people in Narcan use, assisted 95 people with mental health resources, and arranged for 104 people to be sent to detox or substance abuse centers.

Montclair Police Chief Todd Conforti and Fire Department Chief John Herrmann also stopped by the park and expressed admiration for Hope One.

“I think it’s great to reach out to the community like this. Having Hope One come out today and provide these services is probably one of the best things we could have done,” Chief Conforti said.