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Morris County Sheriff’s Office Shares “Cool To Be Kind” Vision With Normandy Park School Students

It’s not hard to hold the attention of young schoolchildren when you show them a Dutch Shepherd that can – like a circus performer – jump five feet to catch a rubber ball.

Morris County Sheriff's Office K-9 Section Detective Marc Adamsky demonstrates the skills of his K-9 partner, Tim, at Cool To Be Kind Community Day on May 29, 2019 at the Normandy Park School in Morris Township
Morris County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Section Detective Marc Adamsky demonstrates the skills of his K-9 partner, Tim, at Cool To Be Kind Community Day on May 29, 2019 at the Normandy Park School in Morris Township

 

“Higher! Higher!” a crowd of giddy kindergarten and first-graders at the Normandy Park School in Morris Township screamed Wednesday morning as Morris County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Section Detective Marc Adamsky demonstrated for them the skills of his K-9 partner, Tim, a 2-year-old Dutch Shepherd.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and Detective Adamsky joined police, firefighters and an emergency management coordinator at Normandy Park School as part of its “Cool To Be Kind” Community Day that introduced young students to the officials who help keep them safe.

Morris County Sheriff's Office K-9 Section Detective Marc Adamsky shows Normandy Park School pupils the talents of his K-9 partner, Tim, during Cool To Be Kind Community Day.
Morris County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Section Detective Marc Adamsky shows Normandy Park School pupils the talents of his K-9 partner, Tim, during Cool To Be Kind Community Day.

“Hi, I’m Jim. I’m your Sheriff,” Sheriff Gannon introduced himself to the students gathered outdoors, where earlier in the day they inspected Morristown and Morris Township patrol cars and a Morris Township Fire Department ladder truck.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon chats with pupils on Cool To Be Kind Community Day at the Normandy Park School in Morris Township
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon chats with pupils on Cool To Be Kind Community Day at the Normandy Park School in Morris Township

“We help your police. You heard from your police from the town of Morristown and Morris Township. And your firefighters. We help them with special things,” Sheriff Gannon said.

He explained that his office has a “SWAT” team, a crime scene unit and a K-9 section – all build-up to Tim’s appearance, which was met with a loud, collective “Aww.”

Morristown Acting Police Chief Darnell Richardson and his wife, Nikki, a teacher at the Normandy Park School, helped organize the event as the culmination of the K-5 school’s yearlong theme of being “Cool To Be Kind” by demonstrating caring, support and appreciation of others. The Morris Education Foundation sponsored the “Cool To Be Kind” initiative.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and K-9 Section Detective Marc Adamsky chat with pupils at the Normandy Park School in Morris Township on Cool To Be Kind Community Day held on May 29, 2019
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and K-9 Section Detective Marc Adamsky chat with pupils at the Normandy Park School in Morris Township on Cool To Be Kind Community Day held on May 29, 2019

Sheriff Gannon and Detective Adamsky fielded questions from the children about the Sheriff’s Office and Tim, while Morristown Police Lieutenant Keith Cregan, Morris Township Firefighter John Zaragoza, Morris Township Police Officer Robert Ribnicky and Morris County Office of Emergency Management Deputy Coordinator Keith Heimberg gave the children insight into their jobs and let them step inside their vehicles.

Lieutenant Cregan discovered that the children have a good idea of what robbers and speeders do.

“The kids also asked about tornados after last night’s alerts were sent out,” he said.

Detective Adamsky also related how the Morris County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Section transformed a frisky dog that wouldn’t behave into a first-class explosives-detecting K-9. A lesson, he said, that there is a place for everyone and everything.

 

 

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon Helps Unveil “Garden Of Hope” Outside Saint Clare’s Behavioral Health Facility in Boonton Township

The Thursday Night Family Support Group and Friends of Saint Clare’s Behavioral Health in Boonton Township realized a shared vision May 23 with a ribbon-cutting on a Garden of Hope where people can grieve, rejoice or reflect on loved ones who are struggling or have passed on from substance use or mental health disorders.

Garden of Hope dedication in Boonton Township
At the new Garden of Hope outside Saint Clare’s Behavioral Health facility in Boonton Township, from left: Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Caroline Bailey, Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Erica Valvano, Saint Clare’s Chief Executive Officer Brian Finestein, Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Nicola Inniss, Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Silvia (a parent), Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Alton Robinson, Saint Clare’s Behavioral Health Administrative Director Rebecca Light, and Mike Hart, facilitator for the Thursday Night Family Support Group at Saint Clare’s.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon was one of three guest speakers at the evening unveiling of the Garden of Hope that was built on a side lawn of the facility off Powerville Road that treats people with substance use and mental health diagnoses.

“We’ll never lose sight of the people in this garden,” Sheriff Gannon said to the crowd celebrating the locale for contemplation and relaxation.

Dedication of Garden of Hope in Boonton Township
At the dedication May 23, 2019, of a Garden of Hope outside Saint Clare’s Behavioral Health facility in Boonton Township, from left: Boonton Township Detective Chris Chicoris, Sergeant Tom Cacciabeve, Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Police Chief Michael Danyo, and Deputy Mayor Bill Klingener.

Attendees included Boonton Township Police Chief Michael Danyo, Sergeant Tom Cacciabeve, Detective Chris Chicoris and Boonton Township Deputy Mayor Bill Klingener; Saint Clare’s Hospital Chief Executive Officer Brian Finestein; and Rebecca Light, Saint Clare’s Administrative Director of Behavioral Health.

Sheriff Gannon’s signature Hope One mobile substance use recovery and resource vehicle was at the event, along with Hope One’s supervisor, Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Erica Valvano and Caroline Bailey, a certified peer recovery specialist who works aboard Hope One training people on how to administer the overdose-reversing antidote Narcan and advising them on treatment options.

Some in the close-knit Thursday Night Family Support Group, facilitated by Saint Clare’s Social Worker Mike Hart, have lost loved ones to drug and alcohol dependencies. Others joined the support group to learn about the disease of addiction and how to keep themselves healthy while helping relatives recover.

“I didn’t really know alcoholism was a disease before I joined the group. I thought ‘How can it be a disease? Just don’t drink,’” said Eveline Giessler, who lost her son, 42, in April 2018.

Garden of Hope dedication to Saint Clare's Hospital
The Garden of Hope, donated by the Saint Clare’s Thursday Night Family Support Group and Friends.

After Mike Hart proposed building a Garden of Hope, support group members were buoyed by the idea. Bednar Landscaping of Boonton Township donated labor, supplies and services to create the picturesque area.

Bluestone paving stones provide a walkway to the circular garden that is fitted with four long wooden benches surrounded by a perimeter of mulch and flowers.

The centerpiece is a large stone on which two plaques are attached. One plaque is etched with the Serenity Prayer; the second plaque bears an explanation of the Garden of Hope.

“The Garden of Hope is donated by the St. Clare’s, Thursday Night Family Support Group and Friends. We join together to offer support by sharing our knowledge, compassion and experiences with individuals, families and loved ones battling addiction and in recovery. We honor the memories of those we have lost. May we never lose hope.”

Sheriff Gannon gave the crowd an overview of the Hope One program and promised to continue helping substance users find paths to recovery – even if they’re incarcerated at the Morris County Correctional Facility – while targeting for-profit drug dealers.

“We need to be guardians on the other side. The simple user with the empty bag in his pocket. We need to take care of them. And we do that. We do that on the street. We do that at the jail,” Sheriff Gannon said.

 

Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Erica Valvano Receives “Community Impact Award” For Oversight Of Hope One Mobile Outreach Program

Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Erica Valvano has been awarded the Community Impact Award by New Jersey Women in Law Enforcement, Inc., for her work on the groundbreaking Morris County Sheriff’s Office Hope One mobile substance use recovery and resource vehicle.

Sheriff Gannon and Corporal Valvano at Women in Law Enforcement Conference
From left, Morris County Sheriff’s Office Undersheriff Mark Spitzer, Sheriff’s Office Corporal Erica Valvano, and Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon. Corporal Valvano received a Community Impact Award from the Women in Law Enforcement Inc., a professional association, for her work on the Sheriff’s Office Hope One mobile substance use recovery and resource vehicle program.

Nominated for the honor by Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Corporal Valvano received the award May 24 at the professional organization’s Annual Leadership Training Conference at Monmouth University, which she attended with nine of her female colleagues from the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Law Enforcement.

The conference’s theme of “Understanding Addiction” focused on the ongoing opioid crisis, a subject Corporal Valvano has mastered by overseeing Hope One since its launch on April 3, 2017.

“I am truly proud of Corporal Valvano, and the entire Hope One staff that includes a certified peer recovery specialist and a mental health clinician, for offering substance use services in a compassionate and stigma-free atmosphere,” Sheriff Gannon said.

Morris County Sheriff's Officers at Women In Law Enforcement conference
Ten female officers from the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Law Enforcement attended a Women In Law Enforcement training conference at Monmouth University on May 23. From left: Sheriff’s Office Investigator Balkis Bernard, Officer Kayla Santos, Detective Lieutenant Denise Thornton, Officer Jessica Martins-Haskin, Investigator Ashley Craig, Corporal Erica Valvano, Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Undersheriff Mark Spitzer, Detective Lieutenant Kelley Zienowicz, Corporal Jen Franke-Parrillo, Officer Dianna Bustamante, and Officer Dana DelGrosso.

The 15th Annual Leadership Training Conference featured speakers who are in recovery, the perspective of law enforcement officers on the opioid crisis, a national certified peer recovery support specialist, and Tony Luke Jr., a grief recovery specialist and founder of #brownandwhite, who spoke on “A Father’s Loss” after losing his son to an overdose.

Ten of 19 female officers in the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Law Enforcement attended the training conference and awards ceremony. Sheriff Gannon and Bureau of Law Enforcement Undersheriff Mark Spitzer traveled to Monmouth University to see Corporal Valvano receive the Community Impact Award.

“I am proud to be part of an agency with 21 percent female officers,” said Morris County Sheriff’s Office Detective Lieutenant Denise Thornton, who oversees the Bureau of Law Enforcement’s Support Services Division.

“We work in all aspects of the agency such as courts, crime scene, process and community services. New Jersey Women in Law Enforcement puts on a great conference every year and we look forward to a day together training, bonding and networking with other female officers in the state,” Detective Lt. Thornton said.

The award bestowed on Corporal Valvano was one of 11 given out to women in law enforcement based on various achievements. The Community Impact Award recognized Corporal Valvano for demonstrating “devotion to community service as well as improving the conditions within a community,” including contributions to non-profit organizations and volunteer efforts to community causes.

On its twice-weekly trips into communities where the need for substance use services has been documented, Hope One’s staff has made more than 6,800 contacts with individuals in nearly 270 stops in Morris County since April 3, 2017, and trained at least 1,732 people in the use of the overdose-reversing antidote Narcan.

In addition to Corporal Valvano and Detective Lieutenant Thornton, the other conference attendees from the Bureau of Law Enforcement were Sheriff’s Office Detective Lieutenant Kelley Zienowicz, Corporal Jen Franke-Parrillo, Sheriff’s Investigators Balkis Bernard and Ashley Craig, and Sheriff’s Officers Kayla Santos, Jessica Martins-Haskin, Dana DelGrosso and Dianna Bustamante.