Police & Fire

Hopatcong Mayor Addresses Drug Issues in Press Conference

Hopatcong Police Chief Robert Brennan talks about the initiatives being used by the department to fight drugs in the borough. Credits: By Jane Primerano
Hopatcong Mayor Sylvia Petillo talks about recent drug arrests in the borough. Credits: By Jane Primerano

HOPATCONG, NJ – In an effort to convince residents a large number of drug arrests means the borough is acting against drugs--rather than fostering the perception that the municipality is a hotbed of drug activity--Mayor Sylvia Petillo called a press conference for Thursday morning, Aug. 22.

Petillo distributed a copy of her talk which began: “There are towns throughout the State of NJ that refuse to acknowledge that they have drugs in their community. Hopatcong has never been one of them.”

She noted that drug use is everywhere.

Sign Up for E-News

“We’re saying don’t come to Hopatcong if you are going to sell drugs,” Petillo said. “We’re not going to stop until they figure out this is not a good place to come.”

She described several drug initiatives the borough has been involved in over the past few years.

The local media have been full of stories not only about drug arrests in Sussex County towns, but also about Route 23 becoming a “drug corridor” west out of Paterson.

The last arrest in the borough was of a man from Paterson, Petillo pointed out.

The mayor and Police Chief Robert Brennan called on citizens to pay attention to what is going on in their neighborhoods.

Brennan said when he was hired 20 years ago the biggest problem in Hopatcong was drunken driving. Because the bars closed an hour later than in other nearby towns, people would come into the borough between 2 and 3 a.m. and often get caught or cause accidents. As municipalities moved toward a more uniform closing time, that problem abated, but others arose.

The chief credited an initiative by detectives in Hopatcong, Mt. Arlington and Roxbury for helping with recent arrests. “We have always worked together when it’s effective,” he said, adding this is the first time such an extensive cooperative effort was launched.

Another point Petillo made was that the nature of drug use has changed.

“It’s not marijuana anymore,” she said, “it’s prescription drugs and heroin.”

The police department has a permanent repository for prescription drugs. “Just put them in a baggie,” Brennan said. Pharmacies used to take care of collecting unfinished drugs, but the police took over the job.

“There are brochures about our collection in the pharmacies,” Lt. Thomas Kmetz noted.

Brennan added that it is important to dispose of these drugs properly, not to flush them down the toilet.

As for heroin, it has become more popular because “it’s cheap and you get more bang for your buck,” Brennan said.

Petillo said heroin is cheaper than prescription opiates and “kids think they are immune” from becoming addicted. The heroin on the streets today is known to become highly addictive very quickly.

Sussex County Freeholder George Graham attended the meeting and asked if the increase in drug use adds to other crimes, such as burglary and shoplifting. Brennan said about 80 percent of all crimes are related to drugs, such as break-ins of homes and cars.

He added, some crimes may not even be noticed, or at least reported, such as when kids break in to their parents’ medicine cabinets or otherwise steal from family members.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Plane Crashes into Lake Aeroflex in Sussex County Park

April 23, 2018

NEWTON, NJ—A one-maned plane crashed into Lake Aeroflex in Kittatinny Valley State Park around 11:30 this morning.

“I heard the plane cut out, then I saw it turn left and flatten out, and then it landed in the lake,” passerby Justin Leyman said. “It took the rescue crews about a minute or so to get the pilot out of the lake.

The plane was completely ...

Sparta Police: Blocked Plate Ends with Drug Charges

SPARTA, NJ – A Phillipsburg man pulled over for a traffic stop, ended up facing drug charges on April 11.  Around 7:55 p.m. on Route 15 Sparta Police Officer Steven Guido stopped a silver Saturn Ion for having an obstructed license plate, police report.

Charles Williams, 29, was driving with two passengers in the car.  When speaking with Williams, Guido smelled marijuana in the ...

Sparta Police: Running a Red Light ends with Drug Charges

SPARTA, NJ – A man stopped for driving through a red light on Route 15 wound up facing drug charges.  On March 30 Sparta Police Officer Thomas Herd pulled over Steven Lassends, 27in a black Infinity, on Route 15, police say.

When the officer spoke with the Montague resident, Herd smelled raw marijuana.  Herd, with the assistance of Sgt. Pensado, Cpl. Antonello and Police ...

The Issue of Alternatives to Elected School Boards

April 14, 2018

The time of electing local school boards should come to an end. According to the National School Boards Association, “the local school board is a critical public link to public schools. Whether elected or appointed, school board members serve their communities in several important ways. First and foremost, school boards look out for students. Education is not a line item on the school ...

Upcoming Events


Tue, April 24, 7:30 PM


Sparta Township Council Meeting


Sun, April 29, 3:30 PM

Codey Arena, West Orange

Girls Try Hockey Free Clinic


Fri, May 4, 7:00 PM

Sparta Evangelical Free Church, Sparta

Veritas Christian Academy presents The Music Man

Arts & Entertainment


Sun, May 6, 7:00 AM

Liberty State Park, Jersey City

11th Annual Susan G. Komen North Jersey Race for ...

Health & Wellness


Thu, May 10, 6:00 PM

First Presbyterian Church of Sparta, Sparta

Creating a Pollinators Garden - Talk & Plant Sale

Education Home & Garden

Sun, May 13, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Sun, May 27, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Sun, June 10, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Newton Council Candidates Call for Elections to be Moved

April 12, 2018

NEWTON, NJ – Four candidates for the Town of Newton Council have the same idea; move the election for council members to the November general elections.  Candidates Matt Dickson and Jason Schlaffer and Ludmilla Mecaj and Wayne Levante just do not agree on how to make that happen.

As a Faulkner Act town, Newton originally established their non-partisan elections to be held separately ...

Buying a Home Is Cheaper Than Renting in Majority of US

Great news for first-time New Jersey home buyers! The results of the 2018 Rental Affordability Report from ATTOM show that buying a median-priced home is more affordable than renting a three-bedroom property in 54% of U.S. counties analyzed for the report.

The updated numbers show that renting a three-bedroom property in the United States requires an average of 38.8% of income.

The least ...

Home Buying Myths Slayed

Team Nest Builder wants YOU to know the truths about buying a New Jersey home!

Some Highlights:

The average down payment for first-time homebuyers is only 6%!

Despite mortgage interest rates being over 4%, rates are still below historic numbers.

88% of property managers raised their rents in the last 12 months!

The credit score requirements for mortgage ...

Buy A Home To Build Your Family's Wealth

Over the next five years, home prices are expected to appreciate, on average, by 3.6% per year and to grow by 18.2% cumulatively, according to Pulsenomics’ most recent Home Price Expectation Survey. Team Nest Builder wants you to understand what that means for homeowners and their equity positions.

As an example, let’s assume a young couple purchased and closed on a $250,000 home ...

Now’s the Time to Buy Your NJ Luxury Home

House no longer fits your needs? Planning on buying a New Jersey luxury home? Now is the time to do so!

Recently, the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing released its Luxury Market Report which showed that in today’s premium home market, buyers are in control.  The inventory of homes for sale in the luxury market far exceeds the number of people searching to purchase these ...

Buy a Home NOW Before Mortgage Rates Climb Higher

Whether you’re a buyer searching for your first home, or a homeowner looking to move up to your next home, Team Nest Builder knows you should pay attention to where mortgage interest rates are heading.

Over the course of 2018, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates increased from 3.95% in the first week of January to 4.40% in the first week of April.

At ...

6 Simple Decorating Tricks for Your NJ Home

Ever watched “Trading Spaces” and wondered, “How do they pull together a beautiful room so quickly?”  Team Nest Builder knows! Read on for these 6 simple decorating tricks from the newly relaunched “Trading Spaces” stars.  You’ll be amazed at what a difference they make in your New Jersey home!

Let Your Heart Choose Your Art

Laurie Smith ...

A Special Performance by The Mental Health Players Raises Awareness of Mental Health Issues

April 23, 2018

In recognition of National Mental Health Awareness Month in May, the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris, NAMI Sussex and Bridgeway Rehabilitation Services are coming together to sponsor a special performance by The Mental Health Players. The Mental Health Players is a group of volunteer performers who use theatrical improvisation and role playing to bring the ...