- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A strong bond connects police officers — a bond that feels like family. In some cases, members of the same family work together, resulting in an interesting mix of relatives within departments across the region.

This second of a three-part series features siblings.

Brothers

Tom Falcinelli works midnights as a patrol sergeant in the 1st District of Montgomery County. David Falcinelli works days as a captain in the Internal Affairs Division of the Montgomery County Police Department. Sgt. Falcinelli represents the Fraternal Order of Police on police department hearing boards; Capt. Falcinelli initiates the board proceedings. Sgt. Falcinelli is a lawyer; Capt. Falcinelli is a certified public accountant. Sgt. Falcinelli is married with two daughters; Capt. Falcinelli is married with three sons. Both are competitive in their respective assignments as law enforcement officers.

Sgt. Falcinelli always wanted to be a police officer. After obtaining a law degree from Howard University, he landed the police job. Capt. Falcinelli worked in the public accounting field for five years but said he did not enjoy it. He reassessed his career choice after he went on a police ride-along with his brother. He got hooked and joined the police department.

For 10 years, the Falcinellis worked together in Bethesda on adjoining shifts. Although they acknowledged some competition between them, they said it was more in the form of friendship.

“It gave you some goals to set. We had a good time together,” Sgt. Falcinelli said.

“It’s not only a career you enjoy but one you can earn a good living at,” Capt. Falcinelli said.

Sgt. Falcinelli said he finds the job satisfying, especially when he helps a crime victim obtain some closure.

“You’re a conduit for them,” he said of crime victims.

• • •

The Rickert brothers live and work in Prince George’s County.

Maj. David Morris was working security part time at an apartment complex in 2004 when he heard a call on the police radio about a disturbance at the swimming pool. When he arrived on the scene, he found that Donald Rickert, a lifeguard at the time, had the situation under control by the time the county police arrived.

“I see this young lifeguard. I was really impressed with his communication skills and they way he was de-escalating the situation,” Maj. Morris said. “He was really doing a remarkable job.”

Maj. Morris, 48, headed the police training academy at the time, and Mr. Rickert accepted his invitation for a visit.

“What I stressed most throughout our conversation was honesty and integrity,” said Maj. Morris, who recruited Mr. Rickert into the police academy in January 2005.

“He had a level of maturity that was far superior to his physical age,” Maj. Morris said.

“This was a career. It was my motivation,” said Officer Rickert, now 26.

Maj. Morris attended his academy graduation and has kept in touch with Officer Rickert.

Officer Rickert’s younger brother, Travis Rickert, wanted to be a police officer but was too young to join the force when Officer Donald Rickert enrolled. Four months before graduating from radiology school, he changed course and followed in his brother’s footsteps.

Officer Travis Rickert, now 25, works on the special assignment team and patrols the streets.

Officer Donald Rickert is assigned to the community response team. His efforts are focused on community policing and working with residents.

Though their mother initially was concerned about safety, Maj. Morris said, he assured her that her sons received the finest caliber of training to carry out their duties.

“She took it pretty hard at first,” Officer Travis Rickert said.

“She’s very proud,” Officer Donald Rickert said. “For her, she’s proud because she knows she did a good job raising us because she instilled values that we’re able to do what we can do now as police officers.”

The brothers said they have a unique understanding about each other’s profession.

“We know what kinds of risks are involved,” Officer Travis Rickert said. “It’s always good to understand what you go through on a day-to-day basis.”

Officer Donald Rickert said, “It’s good because we can share a lot of stories. We can use the police lingo. We both have the same aspirations to move up through the ranks.”

Karen L. Bune serves as a consultant for the Justice Department. She is an adjunct professor at George Mason University and Marymount University in Virginia.

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