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PARSIPPANY – Morris County Sheriff James Gannon is making sure people do know who he is, and more importantly, the work he’s doing to combat opioid addiction.
The sheriff hosted a press conference Wednesday to herald the county’s participation in a program that helps link drug abusers with treatment. Known as the Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative, or PAARI, the program will work to link drug users with counselors from Daytop New Jersey, a Mendham Township substance abuse treatment center. The sheriff sees the program as a complement to Hope One, a two-year-old initiative that features a van traveling the county offering services to those struggling with drug addiction.
The overall aim here is a departure of sorts from traditional police philosophy. Rather than simply arrest individuals, authorities are stressing the need to rehabilitate users. This type of thinking draws a sharp distinction between those stuck in the cycle of addiction and those selling drugs for profit.
Speaking at the county’s public safety academy, Gannon said Morris is the first county in New Jersey to launch the PAARI program, which began in Massachusetts in 2015.
Wednesday’s event took place less than 24 hours after Democrat William Schievella announced his candidacy for sheriff. Chip Robinson, the county’s Democratic chair, said at that event that many people in the county probably don’t know who Gannon is. The Boonton Republican is in his first term as county sheriff.
It is undeniably true that many average residents don’t pay attention to county politics. Sheriff James Gannon may indeed be an anonymous figure to many in the county.
But here’s the other side of the coin. As an office-holder already, Gannon certainly has the ability to get his name out there.
And when it comes to fighting opioid addiction, one must remember the old line about good policy being good politics and vice-versa.