Morris County Prosecutor Launches Initiative to Assist Those Arrested for Drug Offenses

According to statement released by Morris County officials, on Thursday, October 17, Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp, Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, First Assistant Prosecutor Thomas A. Zelante, Acting Chief of Investigations Christoph Kimker, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Brad Seabury, and members of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Special Operations Division briefed municipal law enforcement participants for the next phase of Operation Helping Hand.

Operation Helping Hand, first launched in Bergen County, is an initiative where substance abuse treatment is offered to those arrested for possessory drug offenses.

Official say in the summer of 2018 Prosecutors’ Offices from five counties, including Morris County, participated in a statewide phase of OHH, alongside many municipal police departments and sheriff’s offices. Morris County instituted its own OHH program in 2019.

Morris County will roll out the next phase of Operation Helping Hand, which will start in October and continue through August, 2020.

A coordinated and collaborative operation comprised of local and county law enforcement partners will participate.

If an individual is arrested for a controlled dangerous substance offense during an OHH operation, they will be offered the opportunity to avail themselves of recovery resources.

If accepted, the individuals will be referred to a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist from the Center for Addiction, Recovery Education and Success (CARES).

Prosecutor Knapp said “This program is all about saving lives. It is about getting people into treatment where they will hopefully take advantage of the resources offered to them to combat the illness of addiction.”

During the first phase of the Morris County Operation Helping Hand, Morris County law enforcement made 45 arrests, four (4) of which included charges for possession of controlled dangerous substances with the intent to distribute.

Of the 35 individuals deemed eligible for Operation Helping Hand Services, 27—or 80% of them, accepted treatment. The operation also resulted in the seizure of over 1,000 folds of heroin, more than two ounces of cocaine, and more than two pounds of THC-related substances, including marijuana, hashish, and vape pens and cartridges.

One individual arrested during Operation Helping Hand spoke at the briefing about her experience, and described how the connections forged through the program have allowed her to enter treatment and begin the road to recovery.