Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer crime prevention tips from Captain David Falcinelli

The following is a message to the community from Captain David Falcinelli, Commander of the Montgomery County Police, 2nd District Station in Bethesda.


I am pleased to share that crime in most major categories is down as of the end of May according to year-to-date statistics. Our most recent success occurred when a suspect stole a bicycle, then attempted to sell it on Craigslist. The alert owner saw the “for sale” ad listing his bike and alerted police who set up a purchase from the suspect and made the arrest. This is the third arrest for bicycle theft made in the last several weeks. Theft from autos, which is one of biggest property crimes in the 2nd District, has been relatively low over the last several months. Residential and commercial burglaries are also down, along with stolen autos. The only major category that has seen an increase is Robbery in which there have been 18 events so far, versus 16 at the same time last year.

While it would certainly be easy to look at these decreases and relax, school is out and summer is here and we need to increase our vigilance more than ever. Summer is a time when many vacations occur leaving homes unattended. It is a time when windows and garages are left open to enjoy the nice weather. Unfortunately, it is also a time when criminals take advantage of opportunities that are presented to them.

Many people apply sunscreen before spending a day on the water or at the pool because it is a simple preventative measure that prevents a burn. It only takes a few minutes, but the benefits are great as one quickly learns when they forget to do so and end up with a burn. Preventing crime is a little like preventing sunburn. Put a little thought and effort into prevention, and your risk of becoming a crime victim will be reduced tremendously.

As your police department, we are going on the offensive in an effort to keep these downward trends heading in the right direction. I have requested and received additional resources that will be specifically targeted into neighborhoods where theft from autos traditionally increase during the summer months. We have begun overtime crime prevention details. Our District Community Action Team is patrolling  neighborhoods on bicycles, including some areas that have never seen bike patrols before.  We are deploying our resources in a variety of ways to keep the criminal element guessing as to where we are.

Despite all these additional measures, the most important part of this equation is each of you. Before going on vacation, remember to make sure your newspapers/mail/flyers are picked up or delivery is stopped, ensure your grass is cut, use timers on lights and/or TV’s (do not leave a front porch light on during the daytime!), engage your alarm system, and have a neighbor look in on your house.  If you are a bike rider or store your bikes in your garage, please close and lock your garage doors if you are not actively using the garage. We are seeing an increase in theft of bikes from garages.  Make your bike unique by using stickers, etc. Take a picture of it (and you on it) and jot down the serial # and have it available to share with the police in case it is stolen.  Use a strong, U-shaped lock. Most importantly, help us prevent theft from autos by locking your car doors, removing anything of value and anything that appears to contain anything of value, and report any suspicious activity in your neighborhoods immediately to the police  

Our continuing partnership to reduce crime in our communities is critical, but we each need to do our part. You are our eyes and our ears. You know who your neighbors are. You are the ones that will most likely see a young person with a backpack trying door handles in the late night/early morning hours. You are the ones that will see someone in a backyard that does not belong there. You are the ones that will recognize a car parked on the street that has never been there before and may be occupied by someone you have never seen before. This is when you need to call us at our non-emergency number 301-279-8000 or 911 for a crime in progress. Help us help you keep your neighborhoods safe!

Thank you again and please keep the lines of communication open. You can always e-mail any concerns that do not require an immediate police response to   2DCommander@montgomerycountymd.gov  I will usually get back to you within 24-48 hours.


Captain David Falcinelli
Commander – 2nd District
Montgomery County Department of Police

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Public forum on FY 2017-22 capital improvements

The Western Montgomery Citizen Advisory Board is hosting a public forum on Monday, June 22, 7 pm, to receive public comments and recommendations from attendees on the capital facilities needs our area. That public input will help board members in their consideration of the development of the county's FY 2017-2022 capital improvements program.

The forum will be at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, 2nd floor, 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814.   

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Advisory Board to host event with General Assembly representatives.



Come hear your State elected officials talk about the recently completed legislative season and future priorities, followed by your questions.

When:  May 18, 2015, 7:00 pm

Where:  Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center
4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda, MD

Who:  Maryland General Assembly representatives from
Districts 15, 16, 17 & 18 (invited)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Advisory Board testifies in support of school funding transparency, Bethesda Urban Partnership, public libraries

The following testimony was provided to the Montgomery Country Council by the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board on April 15, 2015.

Members of the County Council, on behalf of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board, we thank you for the opportunity to share with you our feedback of the County Executive’s Fiscal Year 2016 operating budget. Our input comes from interested citizens, neighborhood organizations, local businesses, community groups, non-profits and many others who took the time to share their thoughts about what our priorities for the county should include.

With multiple days of testimony from dozens of groups, we are keeping our recommendations short to highlight how important we feel that they are within the budget.

In our letter from early March to serve as input for the County Executive’s Budget, we asked that funding be prioritized to effectively manage the impact of new residents. The front line of that effort in downtown Bethesda is the Bethesda Urban Partnership, or BUP we call it. With continued urbanization, there’s no substitute for the BUP. BUP makes downtown Bethesda a vibrant community, aesthetically pleasing and a destination for so many. We ask that BUP’s funding be fully restored by an increased transfer from Parking Lot District funds.

With regard to education, the community understands the technical process of the County Council allocating funds, primarily by statute through the Maintenance of Effort law but has little if any direct oversight over how this money is spent. We wholly support fully funding public education. However we would like to bring to your attention a growing desire for there to be more transparency and input over how education dollars are being spent. We feel that any action towards transparency and input from you will make our schools more effective at educating our children.

The recent news that Marriott may look for a new location for its headquarters continues to highlight our needed effort to find and tout competitive advantages to Washington, DC, northern Virginia and our neighbors to the east, Prince George’s County. The County Executive’s six-point plan has brought more vision to this effort and we feel the 7.5% increase in spending for DED should be maintained. 

The CAB was delighted to see the 5% increase in library funding as libraries serve a core government function and have fantastic advocates.

An area of concern is a 4.7% decrease in spending for the Board of Elections. Those involved in the 2014 General Election know that there was a considerable delay from the time polls closed at 8pm until results were available the day after, unlike in other counties. Even though this year’s decrease is due to no major elections, the long delay in election results being released causes people to question vote totals, leaves candidates with rooms full of supporters anxiously awaiting the outcome and is an area where we lag our neighbors in a very public way.

As you deliberate over the coming weeks, we want to further ask you to support:

  • The holistic approach of aging in place, such as home healthcare, social activities, support groups for ailments and illness, housing and protecting senior citizens against physical, emotional and financial abuse;
  • Affordable housing programs for the working poor and those in need of temporary support;
  • Services and organizations that aid the quality of life for intellectually and developmentally disabled citizens, such as the Arc of Montgomery;
  • Continuing the quality of our current public transportation system. As you've surely heard, one objection to developing a new Rapid Transit System has been the ability to properly operate already existing modes of transportation. 

Finally, we would like the operating budget to support increased outreach and usage of 311. We feel that this is a fantastic service that significantly reduces the need to navigate through bureaucracy and citizens need to know about it. The Public Information Office has set a target that 15% of requests be web based but we feel that there needs to be more so people know where to report potholes, get information about trash pickup, access housing programs, seek help in case of mental health crisis, or - as is currently on the Tips section of the website to request a county service - report a dead deer along the roadway.

Submitted by Tara Flynn, Chair and Scott Goldberg, Vice Chair

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Writer's Center offerings

The Writer's Center in Bethesda offers a lot, perhaps more than its name would suggest. Here's a sampling:
  • Year-round workshops for writers of all abilities in fiction, essay, poetry, playwriting, screenwriting, business writing, TV writing, comedy writing.
  • Open-door poetry and prose readings held weekly by writers and poets.
  • A bookstore, with one of the largest selections of literary journals in the mid-Atlantic, open for browsing at the Walsh Street location. There also is an e-bookstore. Most of the authors are Writer's Center workshop leaders or writers who have given readings at The Writer's Center. 
See the center's monthly calendar for upcoming workshops and events.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Madonna of the Trail

There is a great deal of history in Bethesda. The old Bethesda Post Office on Wisconsin Avenue has been in the news recently. However, the "Madonna of the Trail" statue next to the Post Office commemorates something even older.

The statue of a pioneer mother marks the spot where the pioneers spent the first night out of Georgetown on their way west. Bethesda was the eastern terminus of the Cumberland Road, the first portion of the National Old Trails Road leading to the Santa Fe Trail.

Erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1929 (and dedicated by then Judge Harry S. Truman) the statue is one of twelve that can be found between Maryland and California.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Advisory Board Welcomes New Members

The Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board is pleased to welcome four new members: Hrant Jamgochian, Ann Marie Mehlert, Jonathan Sachs, and Carrie Wofford.  Mr. Jamgochian, Mr, Sachs, and Ms. Wofford were appointed by County Executive Leggett in January as residential representatives on the Advisory Board.  They were confirmed by the County Council on Tuesday, January 27.  Ms. Mehlert joined the Advisory Board in October as a business representative and representative of the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce.

Hrant Jamgochian is a health policy expert who currently serves as the Executive Director for the national patient advocacy organization Dialysis Patient Citizens. He brings over 20 years of public policy experience to the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board. Hrant received his Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the Catholic University Columbus School of Law as well as his Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Global Health Law from the Georgetown University Law Center. A member of the Bradley Boulevard Citizens Association, Hrant has called Bethesda his home for more than a decade. He enjoys spending time with his wife and young son. 

Ann Marie Mehlert is a real estate attorney at Lerch, Early & Brewer in Bethesda, Maryland who works with real estate developers, investors and owners on all aspects of commercial real estate. For more than 25 years she has negotiated and documented transactions from acquisition and financing through development, leasing and sales. Ann Marie received her Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Boston College and her Juris Doctor cum laude from The American University Washington College of Law. She is admitted to practice in Maryland and the District of Columbia. She currently serves on the executive board of Montgomery Women and as general counsel for Round House Theatre. Ann Marie also is a past president of the suburban Maryland chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW). After years of spending weekend mornings on soccer fields throughout the country (her husband is a former Division I National College Soccer Coach of the Year and her three children are all former Division I college soccer players), Ann Marie now enjoys Saturday and Sunday mornings from the comfort of her couch, watching English Premier League games on television.

Jonathan Sachs is a lifelong resident of Montgomery County and currently lives in downtown Bethesda. He works in health care in the county, focusing on public policy issues and advocacy. Jonathan previously served as a member of the Montgomery County Nighttime Economy and Transit Task Forces. In the summertime, you can probably find him at the ballpark cheering on the Washington Nationals. Jonathan graduated from the University of Maryland with high honors in Government and Politics. While at the University, he served as President of the Student Government Association.

A resident of the Town of Somerset and a mom of two MCPS boys, Carrie Wofford brings two decades of experience in public policy, having served as Senior Committee Counsel on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, as well as director of new policy ideas for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and policy advisor in the Clinton White House and the Labor Department under Secretary Robert Reich. Educated at Bryn Mawr College and Yale Law School, Carrie also practiced law at WilmerHale LLP for a number of years and founded a non-profit organization to protect veterans from predatory for-profit colleges.

The Regional Services Center and Advisory Board would like to thank all of our outgoing members for their service to their community, particularly past Advisory Board chairs Delegate Marc Korman and Heather Dhlopolsky, chair-elect of the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce.