Friday, July 11, 2014

Police Update

The following is a letter from Captain David Falcinelli, Commander, Montgomery County Police 2nd District:

Dear Residents of the 2nd District:

It’s been a few months and I wanted to share some updates from the 2nd District…

Traffic:

Many thanks to those of you who have managed to work your way around the Cedar Lane closures. I understand that this has been an inconvenience, but the project is a priority for the State Highway Administration (SHA) and it will hopefully be completed prior to the beginning of the next school year. Starting July 13th, SHA will begin a nighttime re-paving project of Wisconsin Ave. between Bradley Blvd. and Old Georgetown Rd. You will experience lane closures between 9pm and 5am.

Officers from the 2nd District won the recent Commander’s Challenge for seatbelt enforcement with the issuance of over 1,100 citations in just three weeks. It is hard to believe in this day and age that some people still refuse to wear their seatbelts. Time and time again throughout my career I have witnessed lives saved by simply buckling up. The fine did increase this year from $25 to $83 so hopefully this will finally convince those hold-out’s to buckle up. I have also noticed that many drivers can be seen holding their cell phone in their hand while driving down the road and using the speakerphone. This is against the law! The cell phone cannot be in your hand while the car is in motion – period! As far as texting, if your car is on the roadway, you cannot write, read or send a text message even if you are stopped. Our officers our still enforcing these laws so please share this information with your family members to keep us all safer on the roads.

Crime:

Just recently, officers from the 2nd District received a call for a bank robbery in the Kensington area. The area was quickly locked down and a suspect was found hiding in a shed in a backyard by one of our K-9 units a short time later. This suspect was responsible for not only the Kensington robbery, but also for one bank robbery in the Bethesda business district and two others in Potomac. This was outstanding work by our officers to get this dangerous criminal off the streets.

As expected, property crimes such as burglaries and thefts from auto tend to rise during the summer months. This year has been no different. In June, the 2nd District experienced 102 thefts from cars. Of these 102, 81 (or 79%) were unlocked. On the ones were force was used, it was normally because valuables were seen in plain view in the car. The most targeted items continue to be wallets, purses, cell phones, laptops, glasses and other small valuables. I cannot stress enough the importance of locking your cars and removing valuables and anything that appears to be of value. While you may not think anything of leaving a laptop case on your front seat, someone that is intent on stealing from cars, especially in darkness, sees that case and thinks there is a laptop inside. They will risk making noise by breaking a window to get into your vehicle. We did make two arrests in June, but so far in July we have had 23 additional incidents.

Some other safety points to consider are:

1. Close and lock your garage doors, especially at night. We have experienced several incidents where items from garages such as bicycles have been stolen overnight.

2. Do not leave a spare car key inside or on your car. We average about eight stolen autos per month. In June, there were seventeen events. Of these seventeen, five were stolen by using a key that was left inside the vehicle. We recently made two separate arrests of car thieves so hopefully that will reduce our numbers. So far in July, we have had no further incidents.

3. Please call 911 immediately for a crime in progress, or our non-emergency number 301-279-800 for a suspicious situation such as an unfamiliar person with a backpack on your street late at night (theft from autos). Let us come and investigate and determine if this person is supposed to be there or not.

Just recently, the 2nd District launched our latest crime-fighting venture called the District Community Action team (DCAT). This is a group of highly motivated uniformed officers that are assigned to work hot spots. They are not normally assigned routine calls for service, although they help out when call volume is high. Earlier this week, an alert resident dialed 911 when he observed his car being broken into. DCAT responded quickly, set up a perimeter, and apprehended both suspects. This week, they have been asked to be a visible deterrent in neighborhoods experiencing a rise in thefts from autos. I am very excited about this unit, so please call or e-mail me if you feel there is a problem in your community where they may help. I meet weekly with my undercover team, detectives, petty crimes unit and DCAT to review the latest crime trends and develop tactical deployment strategies for the upcoming week.

As always, it is up to both of us to do our parts to minimize crime in the 2nd District. I promise to make the best use of my resources and deploy them where they are most needed. I need you to get better at practicing personal safety prevention like locking your cars, houses and garages if you are one of the many that still do not do that.

Thank you for your time. Let’s close out summer together by bringing our theft from autos and thefts of cars down to more acceptable numbers.

Captain David Falcinelli, Commander

2nd District

240-773-6700