Morris County Sheriff’s Hope One Celebrates Seven Years

Addiction & Recovery Program Credited with Saving More than 150 Lives

Law enforcement officers and community partners from throughout New Jersey joined Morris County Sheriff James Gannon at Saint Elizabeth University in Morristown today for the seventh anniversary of Hope One, the sheriff’s renowned outreach program that has been combating the nation’s opioid crisis.

View Photos from the Hope One Symposium

In his opening remarks, Sheriff Gannon presented a disconcerting question to the audience of more than 200 attendees: “Is there anyone in here who doesn’t know someone who has died from addiction? If so, please raise your hand.”

The crowd remained motionless and silent.

Later, Det. Sgt. First Class Brian Kruzell of the New Jersey State Police Drug Monitoring Initiative (DMI) revealed

Sheriff Gannon approaches the stage in the auditorium at St. Elizabeth University. Seating in the foreground is Commissioner Tayfun Selen (left) and Det. Sgt. First Class Brian Kruzell.

that more than 100,000 people per year die due to overdose, which equates to approximately 300 people per day nationwide. The relatively positive news shared at the event is the rate has been declining in New Jersey.

With 2,564 deaths in 2023 compared to 2,893 deaths in 2022, the state currently averages a little less than six deaths per day, and Kruzell noted it would be worse in New Jersey if not for programs like Hope One.

Hope One is a mobile outreach unit that travels throughout Morris County offering critical support for persons and families struggling with addiction and mental health. The Morris County Sheriff’s Office in partnership with the Morris County Department of Human Services, the Mental Health Association and the Center for Addiction Recovery Education & Success (CARES), staffs the unit with a plain clothes sheriff’s officer, a certified peer recovery specialist and a mental health professional. The team also provides Naloxone (Narcan) education, training and kits free of charge to family members and friends of those suffering from substance use disorder.

Hope One marks its 7th anniversary with over 46,000 community contacts and over 8,900 people trained in the use of lifesaving Narcan. To date, 151 Narcan kits have been used to save a life.

“There is no secret that across America and beyond, this opioid epidemic was happening, and we wanted to make a difference. So, what do we need to do? We need to focus on the at-risk population, and the second and final piece is bringing services to them. That’s it; it’s not complicated,” said Sheriff Gannon.

Symposium participants celebrated Hope One’s successes, while sharing best practices, ideas and information about how programs to address the opioid epidemic should be tailored to the communities they serve. 

Program speakers included Morris County Commissioner Deputy Director Stephen Shaw and Commissioner Tayfun Selen, Morris County Prosecutor Robert Carroll, Dr. Sandy Gibson of The College of New Jersey, Det. Sgt. First Class Brian Kruzell of the N.J. State Police DMI, Ret. Captain Felix Pacheco, III, of NJCARES (Coordinator for Addiction Reponses and Enforcement Strategies) and officers from the Hope One and Hope Hub programs. Awards were presented to community support partners from CARES and the Market Street Mission. 

The simple model of bringing services to the client has been so effective that the program has been replicated throughout New Jersey. Other Hope One programs have been launched in Atlantic County, Burlington County, Cape May County, Hunterdon County, Monmouth County, Passaic County and Warren County, as well as the City of Newark. 

Through its mobile outreach addiction services, Hope One regularly finds people homeless or on the verge of becoming homeless, or people needing food, medical care, legal advice and other types of assistance. To address those issues, the Hope Hub program was established in 2021. 

Hope Hub is a multidisciplinary panel made up of law enforcement, social services, mental health services, healthcare providers, treatment providers and recovery specialists who support individuals and families struggling in the community. Each week, the Hope Hub panel meets to determine if an individual or family would benefit from various service sectors. Applicable agencies then work together to execute a door knock or intervention. 

To date, the Hope Hub program has assisted in more than 500 situations in which individuals or families were at an acutely elevated risk of falling into a crisis. Sheriff’s Officer Chelsea Whiting and Social Case Worker Casey Miller are working with 69 providers to help individuals and families who are struggling in Morris County.

“We have grown used to seeing the Hope One vehicle in our communities, but it was truly a groundbreaking concept and service that is now being adopted across the nation. As public servants, you can’t do any of this without forming partnerships and that is exactly what we have here. Not just the great working relationship among the Sheriff’s Office, the County Commissioner Board and the Prosecutor’s Office, but the community partnerships that make Hope One a reality,” said Deputy Director Shaw.

Hope One and its members have also been distinguished with various honors and awards. In 2023, Hope One Coordinator Corporal Erica Valvano received the PAARI Leadership Award for her efforts to create and expand non-arrest programs for individuals with substance use disorders. The Hope One team was also awarded the International Association of Chiefs of Police Michael Shanahan Cooperation in Public and Private Partnership Award in 2019.

Visit the Official Website of Morris County, NJ to learn more about the Hope One Program.

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