Police Focus on ‘Georgetown’s Heartbeat’

Police Capt. Ashley Rosenthal has been with the Metropolitan Police Department for more than 20 years, serving in different police service areas throughout the District. In January, she became captain of the three PSAs comprising Georgetown/Burleith (206), West End/Foggy Bottom (207) and part of Dupont Circle (208).

“Every neighborhood of the District has its own nuances, its own kind of heartbeat,” Rosenthal said in a post-midnight interview with The Georgetowner. Now the captain is focusing on learning what she calls “Georgetown’s heartbeat.”

Rosenthal is part of a network of police services that reaches out and down to every resident in the District of Columbia. There are 56 PSAs in D.C.’s seven police districts. Each PSA is headed by a lieutenant and has a team of police officers and officials assigned to it. The Second District, led by Cmdr. Melvin Gresham, has eight PSAs in three sectors.

“We communicate constantly and meet together at least once a week,” Rosenthal said of her Sector 3 PSA teams. PSA public meetings generally are held monthly.

MPD Lt. Justin Bellavance. Courtesy Justin Bellavance.

Dustin Bellavance is the new lieutenant of the Georgetown/Burleith PSA, which has approximately the same boundaries as Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E. Working the 9:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. shift, as does Rosenthal, he “is responsible for the PSA 24 hours a day,” Rosenthal said. Bellavance oversees investigations and complaints in the PSA and tracks crime patterns. He is responsible for developing a crime prevention strategy for Georgetown. Bellavance replaces Officer Antonial Atkins, who served the Georgetown PSA for more than a decade.

The PSAs are residents’ direct link to the department. “Residents should get to know their PSA team members and learn how to work with them to fight crime and disorder in their neighborhoods,” recommends MPD.

The department itself offers a wide variety of services, many of them immediately accessible via its robust and frequently updated website. There are options, for instance, to text the police directly, to file or request a police report online and to access hotline and tip lines. Also provided are descriptions and access to numerous community and crime prevention and safety programs.

There are a number of victims’ assistance programs, including a “Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights” (available in seven languages from Amharic to Vietnamese), a victims’ compensation program and a link to relevant community agencies.

The department oversees D.C.’s firearm registration and licensing process. Programs include training instructors for transporting and carrying concealed firearms, mace, stun guns, pepper spray and other defense sprays, as well as a program for the disposal of unwanted weapons.

MPD also manages the special events permitting process, a recovered property program (items can be seen on video), the District’s sex offender registration program and an online auction of city assets such as vehicles, police automobile accessories, computers, communications equipment, office furniture and other supplies. School and campus safety programs include crime tracking (including hate crimes) and common-sense training to reduce crimes against property and persons.

The PSAs also support participation by residents in community crime-stopping programs. Officer Atkins offered popular walk-the-beat opportunities for residents to see the neighborhood’s vulnerability to crimes like auto and home break-ins. MPD provides a Major Case/Unsolved Homicides webpage and a YouTube channel with videos of individuals. Residents who provide information that helps capture “D.C.’s Most Wanted” are eligible for various rewards.

Still, Georgetown’s PSA has its unique aspects. Some residents have already commented on how welcome Rosenthal’s interest in the food-truck issue on K Street has been. “That is a special nuance of Georgetown than I didn’t see so much in other PSAs I’ve been in,” the captain said.

And Georgetown will miss its former PSA Officer Atkins. An everyone-is-invited retirement party will be held to celebrate Atkins’s 28 years in the department on Friday, March 2, from 6 to 9 p.m. at House of Sweden, 2900 K St. NW.


Second District Station
3320 Idaho Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20016


Cmdr. Melvin E. Gresham




Capt. Ashley Rosenthal




Lt. Dustin Bellavance




Kyi Branch

MPD Community Outreach Coordinator




Brian Turmail

Second District Chair, Citizens Advisory Council









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