LONG BRANCH — Prompted by an idea from a police sergeant in 2020, a so-called resiliency room is up and running at an undisclosed location in the city, where police officers who've responded to a tragedy or critical incident can privately and confidentially receive psychological support, or just take a moment to breathe.

The partnership between the Long Branch Police Department and Monmouth Medical Center Behavioral Health Services was announced in July. MMC's outpatient behavioral health team can be on hand when an officer feels the need to process and share their thoughts.

"We know that stress takes a toll, and it's important that our police officers take care of themselves as they care for and protect our community," said Stephanie Petrucha, director of outpatient behavioral health for the hospital.

The resiliency room is said to be the first of its kind in New Jersey. MMC was contacted by Police Sgt. Antonia Gonzalez in 2020 with the idea of creating a wellness program for her fellow officers — she understood the need from her own experience in the field and had heard concerns about support from her colleagues.

"I look forward to watching this program grow," Gonzalez said.

"Long Branch is such a fantastic host town for our hospital, and we can never thank the city enough, particularly over the last 18 months of our COVID journey together and witnessing the incredible work of all the frontline heroes," added MMC President and CEO Eric Carney.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

NJ teachers and educators caught in sex crime busts

Over the past few years, state lawmakers have taken on the challenge of dealing with accused child predators among the ranks of teachers and educators.

In 2018, the so-called “pass the trash” law went into effect, requiring stricter New Jersey school background checks related to child abuse and sexual misconduct.

The follow individuals were arrested over the past several years. Some have been convicted and sentenced to prison, while others have accepted plea deals for probation.

Others cases are still pending, including some court delays amid the COVID-19 pandemic.