Montgomery County Council Press Releases & Statements

Montgomery Sheriff’s ‘Choose Respect’ Program Wins Crime Prevention Award
  • Release ID: 12-173
  • Release Date: 9/28/2012
  • Contact: Neil Greenberger 240-777-7939 or Delphine Harriston240-777-7931
  • From: Council Office
ROCKVILLE, Md., September 28, 2012—The “Choose Respect” Program that helps teenagers avoid abusive dating relationships has been selected to receive an award from the Maryland Community Crime Prevention Institute for its proactive measures. The three-year-old Choose Respect program is overseen by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and has been strongly supported by the County’s Domestic Violence Coordinating Council.

The Choose Respect program will be recognized this fall at the 33rd Annual Governor’s Crime Prevention Awards Ceremony. A date and location for the ceremony have yet to be finalized.

Choose Respect is targeted toward County middle and high school students, but aims to gets parents involved as well. A curriculum has been developed for the program, and when a school requests to participate, instructors from the program are sent to the school to discuss scenarios of dating. The curriculum is designed to help girls and boys avoid situations that could lead to abusive relationships. Although there are numerous programs to address domestic violence after it occurs, the Choose Respect program works to prevent those occurrences.

Choose Respect also has an annual conference each spring to recognize achievements in the program. Funding for the annual conference is provided by Verizon Wireless, which has given financial support to the Family Justice Center.

“The Choose Respect initiative is important to breaking the cycle of domestic violence, which often begins with abusive dating relationships,” said Montgomery County Councilmember Phil Andrews, who chairs the County Council’s Public Safety Committee and the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council. “This award recognizes the good work done in implementing this innovative program.”

The County’s Family Justice Center, which is located in Rockville, was established as a one-stop shop to serve all of the needs of victims of domestic violence. The center is a strong advocate of the program.

“It is very exciting that Montgomery County has taken the lead in addressing awareness of violence in teen dating relationships,” said Hannah Sassoon, director of the Family Justice Center. “Most important is the collaborative approach we have in place by including law enforcement, the schools, social services and parents.”

Choose Respect is a public-private partnership. Donna K. Rismiller of the Rismiller Law Group LLC has been working with the program.

“The Choose Respect Program is a unique effort to bring our community together to talk about important issues that impact young people every day,” she said. “At Choose Respect, we engage teenagers, their parents and their leaders in constructive dialogues and explorative opportunities to identify healthy and unhealthy dating behaviors. The only way to change domestic violence in our community is to prevent it before it has the chance to develop. Through the Choose Respect Program, teens are given the knowledge and tools to make that prevention a reality.”

“All too often we see the devastating effect of relationship violence on families and communities,” said Montgomery County Sheriff Darren Popkin. “Choose Respect Montgomery gives law enforcement a new tool to be involved in a preventative approach targeted at our most valuable resource—our youth. I am very proud of the leadership Montgomery County has taken to help them make the best choices.”

In informing the Sheriff’s Office that its program has been selected to receive the award, Charles Rapp, executive director of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, wrote to Sheriff Popkin, “I join the Maryland Community Crime Prevention Institute in extending sincere congratulations to you for your outstanding efforts in the area of crime prevention.”

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