On Friday, February 3, Mayor Scott Fosler, Councilmember Barney Rush and Town Manager Todd Hoffman met with Captain Dave Falcinelli, Commander of the Bethesda District of the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD). The purpose of this meeting was to discuss recent criminal activity in and around Town, the police department’s response to this crime, the deterrent effect of a police presence, and crime prevention.
Recent Criminal Activity
Captain Falcinelli reviewed the recent crimes that have occurred in and around the Town. There have been four residential burglaries in Town since January 1, 2017. The group discussed how the number of criminal incidents in Town compares to those in neighboring communities over different periods of time. The Town’s crime rate is generally consistent with other similar areas. Many crimes are concentrated in downtown Bethesda, and in neighborhoods near or adjacent to the D.C. line.
Captain Falcinelli noted that the best resource for up-to-date information on criminal activity is “datamontgomery,” the County’s online database, which is updated daily.
Police Response to Criminal Activity
Captain Falcinelli reported that the MCPD has made two arrests related to the recent residential burglaries. He noted that the police follow certain trends in criminal activity; however, not all crimes follow a trend. MCPD provides a comprehensive response when trends are identified, and depending on the situation, deploys various resources to include covert surveillance, patrol saturation during peak times, investigative and forensic follow-up, as well as prevention outreach. Captain Falcinelli stated that his department will continue to focus resources on the recent burglaries.
Captain Falcinelli noted that the police department does not share all details of crimes out of respect for both personal privacy and issues of public safety, but he noted that crime prevention recommendations are based on accumulated information from crimes committed and patterns of criminal behavior.
Deterrent Effect of Police Presence
The group discussed the deterrent effect of a police presence in residential neighborhoods. Captain Falcinelli noted that there is a definite deterrent effect, evidenced by a notable decrease in crime, in areas where there is a significant and visible police presence. He noted that without such saturation coverage, it is difficult to measure the impact of additional police presence in an area, although if a criminal were to observe a police presence at a particular location, this may provide a deterrent effect at that location. Captain Falcinelli added that deterrence also is affected by the number of entrance points into a community, and becomes more difficult if criminals have multiple access points.
The group discussed how residents can help make their homes and property less vulnerable to crime. Captain Falcinelli reviewed general crime prevention measures, including stopping newspaper delivery during absences from the home; trimming shrubbery that shields the home from public view; installing timers on interior and exterior lighting; using available alarm systems; and ensuring that homes and cars are locked at all times. He said that residents should never hesitate to call the police if they observe what appears to be criminal activity in their neighborhood.
Captain Falcinelli said that the police department provides free home safety inspections. Any homeowner who wishes to take advantage of this program should contact Community Services Officer Dana Stroman at firstname.lastname@example.org.