SPARTA, NJ – The fifth grade students from Helen Morgan had a perfect day for their LEAD Day celebration in Station Park.  The students had completed the Law Enforcement Against Drugs program run by Det. Sgt. Jeff McCarrick with Detective Brian Hasslock, Officer Taylor May, SRO Dave Pridham, Officer Thomas Snyder.

The national program, headquartered in New Jersey is an evidence based curricula that is statistically proven to help children have healthy relationships, resist drugs and reduce bullying according to McCarrick.

When asked what LEAD means to them, students said;

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“Not taking drugs,” 

“Being responsible,”

“Staying off drugs,”

“No Vapes,"

“It’s fun.”

The LEAD Day event at Station Park had the students move through different stations throughout the day.  

  • obstacle course relay race wearing a bullet resistant vest,
  • soccer against the Red Bull team members who volunteered their time,
  • kick ball,
  • a dunk tank featuring Officer May – who spent a lot of time in the water,
  • climbing around on DPW equipment as well as police cars, ambulance and fire truck,
  • an inflatable obstacle course,
  • tug of war- “the girls won 7-0.”

An Atlantic Health Medivac Helicopter was a big hit as it landed on the upper field for the student to learn about and climb through.

The Sussex County Sheriff’s Department drug dog Roxy did a demonstration with her officer Det. McCann.  The county’s only “single purpose canine trained to detect drugs,” is five years old and is trained to find marijuana, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and MDMA. 

“She uses her nose and mouth to smell the drugs,” McCann said. He explained Roxy is “an officer with a badge” who lives with him and often will sleep in the car.  The students had a lot of questions for McCann.

“Can she do tricks,” a student asked.

“You mean besides finding drugs,” McCann responded.  “She can sit, stay, give a paw.”

McCann said the German shepherd came from the Seeing Eye Dog program two years ago, failing at that vocation did well as a drug detection dog.  “That’s a good lesson for everyone,” McCann said. 

She was trained to find the scents of the drugs, rewarded by playing with a rolled up towel.  “That’s her favorite thing,” McCann said.  He demonstrated the dog’s ability to find drugs and showed the students how much she loves playing with the towel.

The students ate 300 hamburgers and 180 hotdogs, according to Sparta VFW Commander Pete Litchfield.  The VFW donated and grilled the food.  They also provided salads and the pickles served by Helen Morgan Principal Doug Layman.

DJ Dana from Party King Entertainment provided music for the event. Sparta High School students Billy Stoddard and Cole Danzo assisted with the youngsters. 

The day culminated with a tug of war.  First it was teachers versus police department, police won.  Then the student called for their chance to go against the police.  Three students were chosen from each class and they were able to beat the officers.

In his closing remarks, McCarrick asked the students if they enjoyed the day.  With a loud cheer they made their opinion clear.

“It means a lot that you had fun,” McCarrick said.