COLTS NECK, N.J. - Sixty-eight residents in Howell died of a heroin overdose last year. One town - one year. Every town is affected. This is the tragedy, the sorrow and the loss from overdose. Stopping the heroin epidemic was one of many important messages from Sheriff Shaun Golden during a fact filled session at the Colts Neck Business Association (CNBA) meeting on Wednesday, July 12, 2017. Golden gave a jolt to their morning coffee when he detailed the complexity and scope of the organization he oversees and the challenges he sees from his standpoint to ensure the safety and well being of Monmouth County communities. Golden certainly has a service oriented background.
"We know Monmouth county is an awesome place to live. I don't have to advertise that" said Golden. "I grew up in Matawan, and was whisked away to Colts Neck in Sixth Grade. I went to Saint John Vianney, joined the Fire Department and the First Aid Squad (in Colts Neck), and also went to school at Brookdale Community College and Monmouth University. I attended Seton Hall for my Masters Degree and Fairleigh Dickenson for my Certified Public Manager Certification. I am a professor at Monmouth University for the past 13 years in the Government and Public Policy Department. " Golden then went on to tell the crowd of nearly 40 in attendance, that he met his wife when she was a first grade teacher at Colts Neck's Conover School, when he was a first time police officer in the town of Colts Neck. Golden said that he then went on to the Toms River Police Department, and on to the Monmouth County Sheriffs Office in 2007, as Undersheriff of Communications and Technology. Golden says, "I was brought in by the Lt. Governor, (then Sheriff Kim Guadagno) to establish a technology and 911 program for the county."
Golden was also a Paramedic in the past and worked in the Advanced Life Support (ALS) field with former Mayor and Township Committeeman Jim Schatzel, with the professional and highly regarded Statewide EMS service provider, MONOC (Monmouth Ocean Hospital Service Corporation). MONOC is a non-profit company comprised of fifteen acute care hospitals throughout New Jersey. Together this shared services consortium acts as a healthcare co-operative for these acute care hospitals. Nationally and Internationally Accredited, MONOC includes hospitals from three of New Jersey's premier integrated health care delivery networks; Meridian Health System, Robert Wood Johnson Health Network and the Saint Barnabas Health System - http://www.monoc.org.
Sheriff Golden reviewed the historical role of Sheriff and what it means today; "From a historical perspective the Sheriff is the oldest law enforcement position in the country. The primary function still holds true," said Golden. His office has over 638 employees and a $68.5 million budget with four divisions:
1. Communications and Technology - "Out of 53 municipalities we handle 31 police departments and a lot of fire and first aid. We handle 127 agencies. Colts Neck was one of the original towns to utilize shared services, and are saving a tremendous amount of money." said Golden
The Communications Department he oversees handles over 780,000 calls for service in an exceptionally busy county that includes 640,000 residents. Over 120 Communications Operators handle the 911 service in what the Sheriff calls "one of the toughest jobs" in the county. They fielded 780,000 calls in a single year for service with a population of 640,000 people -- the 3rd largest county in the state.
2. Corrections - "That is the jail, it is short term and not a prison -- from 364 days or less awaiting trial or a sentence of 3, 6 or 9 months. If it's over a year then you are supposed to be shipped out to a state penitentiary. We have about 600-700 inmates per month and use an inmate labor program in our communities - four labor inmate crews do painting and landscaping, they work in various communities to give back and rehabilitate. It's about correcting behavior and second chances," said Golden
3. Special Operations - "This includes canine, marine units and drones - they run programs integrated with the academy and their new training facility," said Golden, "We opened up a few weeks ago for our simulated training and response activities."
4. Law Enforcement - Security for Judges and the Courthouse; "We track down wanted people from the warrants to stand trial and issue about 3800 warrant arrests per year," said Golden. "Two are assigned to US Marshalls to go out for extradition, and to bring them back to stand trial."
Golden reviewed several issues confronting us today. In particular, heroin deaths and homeland security
There were 163 deaths last year and over 800 Narcan deployments according to Golden. Thirty-eight of the Narcan deployments were unsuccessful. "That is a life lost to drugs. Narcan is now available in schools and is in every law enforcement vehicle and soon over the counter. Engage your children. We were in high schools and stopped going. Why? We now are going to intermediate schools. We have a an Ambassador Leadership Program where student leaders visit us four times a year. Boy, did they give us an earful they said stop wasting time at the high school, and go down to the 6th, 7th and 8th grades and start there." Golden said.
Golden was adamant that households must clear out their unused prescriptions. "They are 70% of the feeder path into heroin. Every year we do two massive campaigns to get the medications out of your cabinet." He offered to do any programs for any schools groups and they simply need to call his office. "We did the 'faces of heroin' program. Our overdose deaths are much lower in urban areas, lower in Long Branch and Asbury Park and higher in Manalapan and Marlboro. He mentioned that the average age of the overdose victim is between 16-25 and caucasian."Pay attention - engage - and talk about it every day. Golden said.
Golden also called for action on a major problem - short term recovery. "We don't have enough beds. New Hope and Phoenix have waiting lists. There is a list a mile long and we need more short term recovery insertions. If we Narcan a person, we need to do more than have them sign off on a release. There is a little loop hole that needs to be closed," said Golden. The goal is to ensure a recovering overdose victim is certain to receive the care they require.
On Homeland security, Golden referenced the Freehold Raceway Mall in regard to patrol activity and ensuring no gang activity. "We need to make sure we are trained - same with the Outlet Mall (in Tinton Falls) it's the biggest outdoor mall in New Jersey. The CNBA discussion reviewed a number of security priorities that the county places emphasis.
Sheriff Shaun Golden presented as a person who is driven to change statistics for the better. Sheriff Shaun Golden has made it his life's passion to serve and protect others and his fast moving and information rich speech at the Colts Neck Business Association was no exception.The CNBA is an active business organization that supports its members with community building, networking and helpful topics that resonate with members and their families (http://www.coltsneckbusiness.org).
Additional Background - According the Monmouth County Sheriff Office Web Site, Shaun Golden is the 76th Sheriff of Monmouth County and is the chief executive of the 605 member, $68 million agency which consists of three divisions: law enforcement, communications and corrections, as well as the administration of the Monmouth County Police Academy and the Office of Emergency Management, which played the lead role in preparing for Superstorm Sandy and coordinating the response and recovery efforts during and after the storm.
Sheriff Golden is a lifelong resident of Monmouth County and brings with him a wealth of experience in law enforcement and public administration with over 20 years’ experience in law enforcement as well as experience as an EMT, certified paramedic and volunteer firefighter. He holds a master’s degree in administration from Seton Hall University, is a NJ Certified Public Manager and an adjunct professor at Monmouth University with the Department of Political Science and Public Policy. The Sheriff has been instrumental in promoting shared services in Monmouth County, specifically through the expansion of the Communications Division, to cost effectively address the ever increasing needs of Monmouth County’s first responders.
Sheriff Golden is the president of the Constitutional Officer’s Association of New Jersey (COANJ), is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Monmouth-Ocean Foundation for Children (MOFFC), sits on the board of the Monmouth County Prevention Coalition and serves as chairman of the Monmouth Council of Boy Scouts Exploring Committee. In 2013 Sheriff Golden received the Maurice Pollak Award for Distinguished Community Service from Monmouth University. Under his leadership, the Sheriff’s Office offers over 28 community safety programs throughout the county and has partnered with Neptune High School in establishing Explorer Post #1 at Neptune High School for the Jump Start Law/Criminal Justice students as well as partnering with Neptune for the annual Sheriff Youth Week program.