Morris County Prosecutor and President of the County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey (CPANJ), Fredric Knapp, recently joined New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, as well as Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes, Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Dennis Calo, Acting Union County Prosecutor Michael Monahan, and Sussex County Prosecutor Francis Koch in the roll-out of Operation Helping Hand. Operation Helping Hand was a week-long program in which substance abuse treatment was offered as an alternative to incarceration for people who had been arrested for drug offenses. The program ran from June 11, 2018 through June 15, 2018 in Passaic and Union Counties. Prosecutors from five counties participated along with many municipal police departments and sheriff’s offices.
Over the course of the week, 177 individuals suffering from substance abuse disorder were arrested. Of those 177 people, 148 were eager to accept recovery services, which comes out to five out of every six of the arrested. Recovery specialists connected with these individuals following their arrests with the ultimate goal of getting them on the road to recovery.
The success of Operation Helping Hand could not have been accomplished without the efforts of the following Morris County law enforcement agencies and community partners: Morris County Prevention is Key, Morris Center for Addiction Recovery Education & Success, [CARES], the Morris County Sheriff’s Office and their Hope One Mobile Recovery Access Vehicle, the Denville Police Department, the Mount Olive Police Department, the Dover Police Department, the East Hanover Police Department, the Hanover Police Department, the Washington Township Police Department, the Florham Park Police Department, the Montville Police Department, the Morris Township Police Department, the Rockaway Township Police Department, the Pequannock Township Police Department, the Parsippany Police Department, and the Rockaway Borough Police Department.
“Morris County is proud to have joined this five-county collaboration whose chief aim is to connect those struggling with addiction to the resources they need, and we are excited by the positive results achieved,” said Prosecutor Knapp. “In light of the staggering toll heroin and opioids have had on our state and nation, we as law enforcement leaders must utilize innovative methods to combat this epidemic. Operation Helping Hand is one such example we can use. Engaging peer recovery specialists in Morris County, as done in OHH, can hopefully be a key component in our efforts. Traditional drug interdiction alone is insufficient. Education, particularly for middle school children, and diversion of addicted offenders into drug court can be part of our battle. Law enforcement is at its best when partnering with the community, and Operation Helping Hand is a promising example of collaboration between law enforcement and the treatment community that saves lives. I would like to offer a special thanks to Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of Investigations Stephen Wilson, Morris County Sheriff James Gannon, Morris County Undersheriff Mark Spitzer, Chief Andrew Miller of the Parsippany Police Department, and Chief Conrad Pepperman of the Rockaway Borough Police Department, along with Alton Robinson of CARES for their attendance at the Attorney General’s press conference at the New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus on Wednesday.”
Operation Helping Hand was an important step in combatting the Heroin and Opioid Epidemic. The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office will continue to work with law enforcement agencies throughout the State of New Jersey to continue the progress that was made in this initiative.