Safe Communities Coalition: Press Release

Branchburg, NJ — Hunterdon Prevention Resources (HPR) and Safe Communities Coalition of Hunterdon /

Somerset recently held their annual Conference “Our Communities’ Greatest Challenges” at Raritan Valley

Community College to an audience of 150 professionals. The Professional Conference has been an

annual tradition of HPR for over 15 years and the Safe Communities Coalition became a collaborating partner in

the conference starting in 2009.  Other key collaborative partners in this year’s conference include EmPoWER

Somerset, Hunterdon County Municipal Alliances, Raritan Valley Community College, and Somerset County

Municipal Alliances.

Conference speakers included Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony Kearns, Somerset County

Prosecutor Michael Robertson, Keynote Speaker Chauncey Parker of the New York/New Jersey High Intensity

Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA), DEA Special Agent Timothy P. McMahon, Anesthesiologist Dr. William Bentley of

the Center for Advanced Pain Management at Hunterdon Medical Center and Tamara Berisha, Program Director

of Hunterdon Healthcare Integrative Medicine. A theme that resonated among all of the conference speakers is

collaboration -- a heightened awareness of the need to work together and an openness to coordinate efforts

across many community sectors and professional disciplines in order to effectively reduce the negative impact of

drug use.

Both county Prosecutors provided examples of successful collaborative efforts that have joined law

enforcement with other professional disciplines. Through the START program, introduced in Hunterdon and

recently expanded into Somerset, law enforcement officers and the medical community are equipped with the

resources to provide outreach and support to people in need of substance abuse treatment. Hunterdon County’s

One Voice initiative similarly enlists the support of local faith based leaders in sharing a coordinated prevention

message within their congregations on a designated faith weekend.

Keynote speaker Chauncey Parker also shared examples of collaboration within New Jersey and between

states. According to Parker, in his criminal justice career spanning more than 30 years law enforcement strategies

are more coordinated and collaborative than ever in combating illegal drugs. The HIDTA is a federally-funded

program that invests in federal, state and local law enforcement partnerships designed to build safe and healthy

communities. Among the partnerships that they have invested in are the Heroin Response Strategy and Drug

-- more --

Contact: Jerri Collevechio, Senior Director


Phone: 908-782- 3909

Fax: 908-782- 6025

For Immediate Release

Monitoring Initiative, local police departments are able to share information about the types, quantity

and toxicity of drugs being sold in particular areas. The information reported becomes part of a database that

helps to identify trends that can guide the efforts of both law enforcement and prevention strategies. It can also

alert law enforcement of dangerous trends such as Fentanyl-laced heroin which can be particularly deadly.

A presentation by Special Agent Timothy P. McMahon of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New

Jersey Division covered drug identification and recognition. He discussed current drug trends including new forms

of marijuana use such as “wax,” “dab,” “oil” and “budder.” McMahon said, “The DEA was very happy to

participate in this year’s Professional Conference.  It gave us the opportunity to speak to the audience about

current drug trends; pills, heroin, Fentanyl-laced heroin, and marijuana.  It is very important for us at the DEA to

keep getting the word out and educating our professionals and community.” McMahon is currently assigned as

the Public Information Officer and Demand Reduction Coordinator and frequently collaborates with coalitions

such as Safe Communities to educate parents to be savvy to subtle signs of drug use. An example of McMahon’s

“Hidden in Plain Sight” mock bedroom presentation was set up at the conference for participants to peruse. In

this parent presentation, participants can see and interact with real life examples of ways that drugs or

paraphernalia are commonly disguised or hidden in the home.

Preventing opiate addiction is a priority concern of the medical community as well. According to

Anesthesiologist Dr. William Bentley, “Of the thousands of people in the US who undergo common surgical

procedures every day, 99% are prescribed post surgical opioids.” Dr. Bentley discussed the importance of

appropriate prescribing practices as well as educating patients on the risks of addiction. Alternative treatments

are another strategy in preventing prescription drug addiction. Tamara Berisha, Program Director of Hunterdon

Healthcare Integrative Medicine provided an overview of integrative medicine which expands options for treating

chronic pain through an array of holistic therapies such as acupuncture, massage therapy, herbal medicine and

nutrition counseling.

About the Safe Communities Coalition of Hunterdon / Somerset

The goal of the Safe Communities Coalition is to foster a safe and healthy community by eliminating drug use,

underage drinking and prescription drug abuse. Anyone interested in helping to reduce and prevent substance

abuse is welcomed to attend. The Safe Communities Coalition of Hunterdon County meets on the second

Thursday of every month at Hunterdon Central High School, 9:00 to 10:15 am The Safe Communities Coalition of

Somerset County meets every third Tuesday from 9:30 to 11:00 am at Raritan Valley Community College. Anyone

wishing to join should contact Jerri Collevechio at (908) 782-3909 or


Tim McMahon: Special Agent Timothy P. McMahon of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey

Division provided a presentation on drug identification and recognition, including current drug trends including

new forms of marijuana use such as “wax,” “dab,” “oil” and “budder.”

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