SEASIDE PARK - Just ahead of President Donald Trump's declaration of a national health emergency to combat America's opioid crisis, the men and women who place their lives on the line to stamp out drug-peddling predators - and support the shore's quality of life in countless other ways - received accolades from a select group of New Jersey commerce leaders.

Police, and some outstanding Boy Scout representatives, were honored guests of the Bacchanalia group, Wednesday at Ebby's in Seaside Park. More than 40 business leaders from all corners of the Garden State belong to Bacchanalia, fostering positive relations at monthly gatherings and dinners.

Among the attendees were Seaside Heights Mayor Tony Vaz and Police Chief Tom Boyd, Ocean County Sheriff Mike Mastronardy, and Central Ocean Business Assocation President John Crisafulli.The honor guard from the Boy Scouts Jersey Shore chapter were Ayannah Yhap, Jerome Townsend and Jerome Davies.

Mastronardy, newly returned from the Arizona-Mexico border, offered a clear-eyed assessment of the daily struggle to stem the tide of drugs rolling in from outside US borders.

"We are working hard to keep you safe. The opiod crisis needs to be addressed," Mastronardy said. Referring to his squad members, he added, "We are the first in the nation to crry Narcan in police cars, and we've been saving lives. We support [drug-aversion grassroots group] Hope Sheds Light, that reaches our kids before they start. They also support ahd nelp families that lost a loved one.

He went on to underscore the value of anonymous prescription drop boxes at a growing number of Ocean County police stations in reducing the potential for overdose deaths.

"We just came back from watching drugs pouring across [the border], Mastronardy said. "We are working hard to stop the drugs, and there are worse ones coming," he said, adding that law enforcement's anti-drug vigilance is "Border to Backyard."

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