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MoCo launches new suicide and drug abuse prevention campaign - ‘BTheOne’

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BTheOnePosters at bus shelters, public service announcements and a website marked the County’s new campaign to curb teen suicide and drug abuse.

The public education campaign, entitled “BTheOne,” launched Oct. 19.

“Suicide and substance abuse are not the answer,” County Executive Ike Leggett said during the brief opening event. “Far too many teens believe it is, and the results are tragic.”

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MCPS unaware of investigation prior to HS counselor’s arrest for sex crimes

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ColinBlack e1508424533352MCPS officials said they were unaware of police investigation of Colin Black prior to his arrest.  FILE PHOTO  Officials from Montgomery County Public Schools said they were unaware police had been conducting an investigation of a local high school guidance counselor for sexual assault allegations until the man was arrested this week. The investigation began nearly seven months ago, according to Montgomery County Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Rebecca Innocenti.

"We just learned of the investigation and arrest yesterday," Montgomery County Public Schools spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala said.

Colin S. Black, 33, a guidance counselor at Albert Einstein High School, was arrested Thursday morning on charges of second-degree sexual offense and second-degree assault, according to an Oct. 19 MCPD press release.

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GOP challenger rises against Sheriff Popkin

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Hwang PopkinLt. Jae Hwang with Montgomery County's 5th District Police Station will challenge Sheriff Darren Popkin in next year's general election. COURTESY PHOTOS  A deputy commander of Montgomery County's 5th District Police Station will challenge Sheriff Darren M. Popkin in the Nov. 6, 2018 general election.

Lt. Jae Hwang, a 15-year police veteran, Army reservist, and graduate of the University of Baltimore Law School, filed paperwork with the Maryland State Board of Elections this month and launched a website - www.jaeforsheriff.com. He is a registered Republican.

"Crime has been increasing in Montgomery County," Hwang said in an interview. "We need a more effective, engaged and hands-on sheriff."

Popkin, a Democrat, was first elected as Sheriff in 2010 following the retirement of six-term Sheriff Raymond M. Kight. Although Popkin faced challengers in the 2010 and 2014 primary elections, he has never before run against any opponents in a general election.

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New Approaches

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County leaders gather to deal with rising local gang violence

MoCo LogoROCKVILLE – State’s Attorney for Montgomery County John McCarthy said the County’s gang problem is on the rise.

“When you see the recent rise in crime at the level and the extent to which you see it, new strategies are called for, new approaches are called for when you see this,” McCarthy said.

On Tuesday, four police chiefs, the County’s Sheriff and the Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools signed a memorandum of understanding to help facilitate cooperation in combating the County’s rising gang problem.

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Council gives MCPD gang money

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MoCo LogoOn Tuesday the County Council agreed to give the Montgomery County Police Department and the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s office a combined $843,693 to fight the County’s rising gang problem.

The money, which the Council approved unusually quickly immediately after the public hearing without a Public Safety Committee meeting, will allow the State’s Attorney’s office to start a new gang unit and allow the police department to better organize their efforts on combating gang violence.

“I did not want an additional week to go by without our taking this matter up, getting a public hearing scheduled so we could act on the same day,” said Council President Roger Berliner (D-1).

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Panelists answer questions at Chevy Chase town hall on hate crimes

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Chevy Chase Town logoCHEVY CHASE — An energized group of concerned residents, law enforcement, and members of civil rights organizations filled the Jane E. Lawton Community Center on Wednesday night, Sept. 27, gathering for a public forum to discuss the rising number of hate incidents in the community.

The attendees were given information about what to do in the event they or their families are confronted with a hate or bias incident.

Joel Rubin, a member of the Chevy Chase Town Council, moderated the forum. Rubin organized the gathering in reaction to anti-Semitic fliers that had recently been placed outside the front doors of several houses in the usually quiet neighborhood.

“What do you do when hate comes to your town?” Rubin asked in his opening remarks. “This is something I don’t think anyone here in our community expected, and because of that we thought it would be important to have a community discussion about the question of hate in our community.”

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Missing Olney woman found dead, boyfriend charged with her murder

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wallenPolice have found the body of Laura Wallen, who had gone missing over the Labor Day weekend, in a shallow grave in Damascus. COURTESY PHOTO   

UPDATED 9/13/2017 AT 8:55 P.M. — Laura Elizabeth Wallen, 31, of Olney, has been found dead, and her boyfriend has been arrested in connection with her murder.

Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger held a press conference at Police Headquarters to announce that Wallen’s body was found by police in a shallow grave on a plot of land on Prices Distillery Road in Damascus. Today at 5:30 p.m., police arrested Wallen’s boyfriend, Tyler Tessier, on the charge of first-degree murder and other related charges.

Police had information from local witnesses that Tessier had been frequenting the area where Wallen’s body was found in Damascus.

The last text communication that came in from Wallen's cellphone was to family members on Monday, Sept. 4 around 9:00 a.m. 

"It was troubling enough for family to call police," County Police Sgt. Rebecca Innocenti said.

Police now believe that text on Monday morning was from Tessier, using Wallen’s cellphone and attempting to impersonate her. Police believe she was killed on Sunday, Sept. 3, according to Chief Manger.

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County discusses diversity in policing

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Last year Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger met with County residents after police officers in Minnesota and Louisiana were caught on camera shooting African-American men.

The videos promoted protest and outrage across the Country, including in Montgomery County, from people who thought police departments did not represent the communities they sworn to protect. At one of the community forums, Manger promised to continue to try to diversify the County’s police department, but it was hard to keep up with the County’s quickly changing demographics.

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Manger talks about building trust at Montgomery College

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ROCKVILLE – Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger said County police have about 500,000 contacts with the public every year, and each one has the potential to go awry.

“What I tell my cops is that every single one of those contacts can either contribute and build trust, or it can damage trust,” Manger said.

Last week Manger and Montgomery College President DeRionne Pollard sat down for a discussion at Montgomery College’s Rockville campus to discuss relations between police and the community. Manger talked about the struggles to build trust with the community and the potential for unrest in the County.

“Ferguson can happen anywhere, you have to pay attention to the relationship that the police department has with the community,” Manger said.

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Cop reunited with child he saved

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Cop Reunited with Child 2Sahara McCallister appeared with her mother and police officer Jonathan Pruziner. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER  

GERMANTOWN – The last time Montgomery County Police Officer Jonathan Pruziner saw 7-year-old Sahara McCallister, she was lying on her back cold and wet.

On Friday the two met again, as Sahara and her mother were reunited with the cop who saved her life after she went missing more than a week ago.

Sahara, who is autistic and nonverbal, ran away while a babysitter was watching her when her mother was at work. Pruziner, one of 15 officers who responded to the emergency call, found Sahara in a nearby pond suffering from hypothermia in near-freezing temperatures.

“She was pale. She was shaking. She was foaming at the mouth. I thought she was dying in my arms,” Mary Wimpy said after seeing her daughter in the hospital after Pruziner rescued her.

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