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GAITHERSBURG – On Jan. 22, Cavanaugh Bell, a six-year-old home-schooled Gaithersburg resident, came to City Hall to testify about the effects of bullying on school students.
Bell is the organizer of Cool & Dope (Considering Others’ Obstacles in Life and Dish Out Positive Energy), a nonprofit organization that conducts various activities to support sick and disadvantaged children.
In his testimony, Bell asked Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council to dedicate Feb. 21 as Bullying Awareness Day in Gaithersburg in honor of Gabriel Taye, an Ohio youth who committed suicide by hanging in January 2017. On Feb. 18, Bell and his mother, Llacey Simmons, returned to City Hall to see his request granted.
“I’m grateful to the mayor because this is an important first step,” Bell said.
“We were all incredibly moved by the thoughtfulness and articulateness and just the good idea that you had here,” Ashman told Bell before issuing a proclamation designating Feb. 21, 2019, which would have been Gabriel Taye’s 11th birthday, Bullying Awareness Day in the city. Bell accepted the proclamation and, with his mother’s assistance, showed pictures and gave the names of several young children who took their own lives.
“Four words that no parent should ever have to say are, ‘No one helped us,’” Bell said. “Three birthdays is how many Gabriel Taye has missed while his mother has looked up to him in Heaven. Two things the world needs more of are love and positivity. With those, I know we can stop bullying.”
Ashman and the Council also issued a proclamation designating February 19, 2019, as Ike Leggett Day in Gaithersburg, in recognition of Leggett’s service to Montgomery County and Gaithersburg. Leggett, who served four terms on the County Council and then three terms as County Executive before retiring last fall, came to City Hall to accept the proclamation.
“Mr. Leggett served our county through times of boom and not exactly bust but close to it during the Great Recession,” Ashman said. “He had to adopt his politics and policies to the realities he was given, and frankly, I’m not sure he gets enough credit for how steadfast and graceful his leadership has been throughout all that.”
“I’m honored to receive this, because I know that the cooperation and collaboration between our governments served not only the city of Gaithersburg but clearly the citizens of Montgomery County,” Leggett said.
Referring to the evening’s forecast of snowfall, Leggett said, “As I was driving over here, I thought to myself, ‘This is a good time not to be County Executive.’”
Leggett praised Bell’s efforts to raise public awareness of the effects of bullying.
City Police Chief Mark Sroka presented honors to several members of the Police Department. Officer Kyle Khuen received the 2018 Officer of the Year Award.
Sroka noted that drunk-driving fatalities in the United States had decreased by a third over the last 30 years.
“Without a doubt, this gain is in part a result of hard-working officers with an excellent work ethic and dedication to doing police work,” Sroka said. “Officer Kyle Khuen is one of those officers. Officer Khuen has a strong work ethic, and his high quantity and quality of work was performed consistently day in and day out throughout the year, and he clearly has significantly exceeded the expectations and requirements of a patrol officer. Officer Khuen excelled in the area of DUI enforcement, averaging six DUI arrests every month of 2018. His efforts have saved countless lives by taking dangerous drivers off our roads.”
Sroka also noted that Khuen had logged over 1500 citizen contacts in 2018, without a single complaint made against him.
Sergeant Raul “Willie” Delgado received the Supervisor of the Year Award for his leadership of the five-member Street Crimes Unit, which also received the Unit Citation Award. Sroka said that the Street Crimes Unit was responsible for 152 arrests and numerous illicit drug and weapons seizures during the year.
Corporal Lester Rice was promoted to Sergeant, and Officer Brandon Day was promoted to Corporal.