Morris County Sheriff and Corrections Officers Support Autism Awareness Through Sale of Multicolored Patches

Autism Awareness Patches
Morris County Sheriff’s Officers in the Bureaus of Law Enforcement and Corrections are selling vibrant patches to support Autism Awareness Month in April.

Morris County Sheriff and Corrections Officers are selling vivid, multicolored patches to draw attention to Autism during National Autism Awareness Month in April and will donate sale proceeds to a charity that serves clients with the disorder.

The patches that sell for $5 apiece bear the name “County of Morris Sheriff” and have the words “Autism Awareness” printed in a circle against a background of yellow, pink, red, green, orange and blue puzzle-shaped pieces.

Morris County Sheriff’s Officer Travis Somerville is handling patch sales on behalf of the Bureau of Law Enforcement and P.B.A. 151, while Bureau of Corrections Lieutenant Mike Schweizer has organized patch sales for the bureau and its P.B.A. 298.

“We like raising money for charities, and people and kids like seeing all the different patches. This will help shine a light on Autism,” Lt. Schweizer said.

Officer Somerville works in the Bureau of Law Enforcement’s Community Outreach and Planning Section, where officers – among other duties – oversee Project Lifesaver, a program whose 120 clients include people with Autism.

Autrism Awareness Patches and Morris County Sheriff's Officers
From left, Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Laura Bertelli, Sheriff’s Office Investigator Ashley Craig, and Sheriff’s Officer Travis Somerville, all of the office’s Community Outreach and Planning Section, display Autism Awareness patches whose sale proceeds will be donated to a charity that assists people with Autism.

Project Lifesaver clients, including people with Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s Disease, wear ankle or wrist bracelets equipped with transmitters that enable police and rescue personnel to find them if they go missing.

“I support the spirit and enthusiasm behind the sales of the patches. Anything we can do to increase understanding of Autism – Autism Spectrum Disorder – is a noble cause,” Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon said.

Autism patches at the Morris County Correctional Facility
From left, Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Officer John Baena, Corrections Bureau Lt. Mike Schweizer, and Corrections Officer Eric Brauner display Autism Awareness patches the bureau is selling, with proceeds going to a charity that serves people with Autism.

In October of 2018, the Sheriff’s Office Bureaus of Corrections and Law Enforcement sold pink patches to heighten awareness of breast cancer and were able in January 2019 to donate $3,000 to the Carol W. and Julius A. Rippel Breast Center at Morristown Medical Center, part of Atlantic Health System Cancer Care.

Anyone interested in purchasing an Autism patch can call Lt. Schweizer at 973-631-5433 or Officer Somerville at 973-285-6681.

National Autism Awareness Month was first declared in April 1970 by the Autism Society to increase awareness of the complex mental and developmental disability.



Morris County Sheriff’s Office Explorer’s Post 140 Helps To Beautify Whippany River

Three members of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Explorers Post 140 on Saturday, March 23, climbed hillsides and scoured the banks of the Whippany River in Morristown for litter while participating in the 9th annual Whippany River clean-up.

Sheriff and Explorers at annual Whippany River cleanup
At the 9th annual Whippany River clean-up in Morristown on March 23, from left: Morris County Freeholder Douglas Cabana, Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Sheriff’s Office Corporal Laura Bertelli, Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post 140 Member Chris Primamore, Explorer Steven Fasano, Explorer Vani Gupta, and state Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco.

Two Explorer’s Post advisers – Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Laura Bertelli and Sergeant Walter Rawa – accompanied the teenage Explorers – Steven Fasano, Vani Gupta and Chris Primamore – on their quest to rid the riverbanks of a year’s accumulation of cans, bottles, plastic and Styrofoam.

Vani Gupta at the Whippany River cleanup
Morris County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post 140 Member Vani Gupta collected litter with fellow Explorers at the annual Whippany River clean-up on March 23.

Intrepid Sergeant Rawa wrestled a rusty, 12-foot ladder out of the river, a tributary of the Rockaway River that attracts fishermen throughout the year.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Morris County Freeholder Douglas Cabana and state Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco stopped by to thank all the litter collectors who had gathered by the river behind Bethel A.M.E. Church for the event held annually by the Whippany River Watershed Action Committee.

Morris County Sheriff's Office Sergeant Walter Rawa
Morris County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Walter Rawa managed to dislodge a faded red ladder that was partially embedded in the muddy bottom of the Whippany River in Morristown on March 23, 2019.

Bethel A.M.E. Pastor, Rev. Sidney Williams, blessed the group before they ventured out. The Morristown Department of Public Works contributed to the beautification by picking up the mounds of bags of collected litter.

Sheriff's Office Explorers at Whippany River cleanup
Morris County Sheriff’s Office Explorers Post 140 Members Chris Primamore, left, and Steven Fasano, help beautify the banks and surrounding area of the Whippany River during the annual Whippany River cleanup on March 23, 2019.


Morris County Sheriff’s Office Provides Manpower For Probe Into Fentanyl and Heroin Mill Linked to 84 Fatal Overdoses

The Morris County Sheriff’s Office provided manpower for the extensive investigation that led to the takedown of a major fentanyl and heroin mill in Harrison whose alleged co-conspirators distributed drugs branded with stamps that have been linked to 84 fatal overdoses in the last year.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon appeared Thursday, March 21, with other law enforcement agencies at a press conference in Newark at which N.J. state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced the arrests of three men in connection with the probe that seized about 32,500 individual doses of heroin and four kilos of fentanyl and heroin.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon at a press conference
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, second from left, at a televised press conference in Newark on March 21, 2019, to announce three arrests linked to a fentanyl and heroin mill allegedly responsible for distributing brands linked to 84 fatal overdoses.

“I am proud that my office had a role in dismantling this life-destroying enterprise and I will continue to make ridding Morris County of narcotics and assisting people struggling with addiction priorities,” Sheriff Gannon said.

The Attorney General stated that narcotics were distributed in wax folds stamped with the same brand names that have been linked to 227 overdoses, including 84 deaths in the past year.

The Attorney General released the following details about the ongoing probe:

The arrests were made in an ongoing investigation by the New Jersey State Police Opioid Enforcement Task Force and the Division of Criminal Justice. They were assisted by U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, Morris County Sheriff’s Office, Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, Passaic County Sheriff’s Office, Cliffside Park Police, Nutley Police, Harrison Police and Newark Police.

The New Jersey State Police recently established the Opioid Enforcement Task Force, designed to strategically target heroin and fentanyl sources of supply across the state. In October, the Department of Law & Public Safety, New Jersey State Police, was awarded a $2.8 million grant for this Task Force from the Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), Anti-Heroin Task Force Program.

Morris County's Hope One vehicle
The Morris County Sheriff’s Office’s Hope One mobile substance abuse recovery and resource vehicle that has provided Narcan training and addiction services to individuals since April 3, 2017.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, based on the evidence seized, it is estimated that the drug mill, set up in a luxury apartment at 300 Somerset Street in Harrison, was supplying 15,000 doses of fentanyl and heroin per day.

Timothy Guest, 45, of Irvington, N.J., allegedly operated the mill with associates working under him, including William Woodley, 27, of Belleville, N.J., and Selionel Orama, 25, of Cedar Grove, N.J. Those men were arrested on Thursday, March 14. They face first- and second-degree drug charges, including a charge of maintaining a narcotics production facility.

The Attorney General’s Office stated that the New Jersey State Police Opioid Enforcement Task Force was conducting surveillance in the area of the mill in Harrison on March 14 when they saw Guest leave the apartment building with a black duffel bag suspected to contain drugs and enter a Cadillac XTS. When State Police attempted to stop the Cadillac, Guest allegedly fled, striking two occupied troop cars. The Cadillac became disabled and detectives placed Guest under arrest. Meanwhile, Woodley and Orama fled from the mill building and also were arrested.

Investigators found 150 bricks of fentanyl in the black duffel bag in the Cadillac XTS. A brick consists of 50 individual doses of narcotics packaged in wax folds. Inside the drug mill, they seized three kilograms of fentanyl, one kilogram of heroin mixed with fentanyl, 500 bricks of fentanyl (approximately 25,000 individual doses containing fentanyl packaged for distribution), and drug milling equipment, including 29 coffee grinders, kilo presses, wax folds, and respirator masks.