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About Your Success is Our Business by Laura Rowles

Laura Rowles is the Director of Events & Marketing for the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce (GGCC) serving almost 400 members by hosting over 30 networking events each year, as well as providing educational seminars and special events. The Chamber hosts numerous events each year including: breakfasts, lunches, after-five’s, ribbon cuttings... Read more

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Blog: Chamber Awards Fifty-Eight Public Safety Officials

Twenty-six years of honoring the Upcounty’s finest continued despite the coronavirus pandemic. The Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce (GGCC) honored fifty-eight Upcounty Police Officers and Public Safety Emergency Communications Specialists at their 26th Annual Public Safety Awards on Friday, July 30, 2021.

This event honors the public safety personnel and first responders from Montgomery County Upcounty’s fire and police and sheriff departments, who have exemplified extraordinary heroic actions and exceptional performance of their duties.

It is our honor to award our first responders for everything they do every day to make our community safe,” said Marilyn Balcombe, GGCC president. “This was a very difficult year for everyone, and these men and women continued to go above and beyond the call of duty. We thank them and their families for the work they do.

The event was a pre-produced program filmed via Zoom in conjunction with the Chamber’s media partner Montgomery Community Media and broadcasted on the Chamber’s YouTube channel. The video premiered on Friday, July 30, 2021, and may be viewed at

This year the Chamber recognized public safety officials from the City of Gaithersburg Police Department, Montgomery County Police 5th and 6th Districts, Montgomery County 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Center, and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office in the following categories: Citation for Bravery, Distinguished Service Citation and Meritorious Service Citation.

Congressman David Trone, State Senators Brian Feldman, Cheryl Kagan, and Nancy King, State Delegate Lily Qi, Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones, Montgomery County Sheriff Darren Popkin, Montgomery County Council Members Sidney Katz and Craig Rice, and City of Gaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman sent messages of support to the police officers, sheriffs and other public safety officials who received honors for their dedication to protecting the community.

Each public safety official received a citation from Senator Kagan, the District 15 Delegation, and Congressmen Trone.

The Chamber feels it is of the utmost importance to thank those who protect our homes, businesses, schools, and families every day.

Max Lee, commercial account executive at Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling and title sponsor for the 14th year in a row, said in his remarks, “never forget how important our first responders are”.

The Public Safety awards ceremony is a great way to celebrate the achievements, outstanding service, and commitment to the business community of those being awarded. This program provides Chamber Members with an opportunity to publicly thank those who help maintain the quality of life in the Gaithersburg and Germantown areas.

These men and women go above and beyond the call of duty to serve our local community and we want them to know we appreciate them and their hard work.


Summary of Awards

Gaithersburg Police Department

Detective Corporal Robert Scire was presented the Distinguished Service Citation for his hard work and dedication on closing a case involving an attempted murder that occurred at a local hotel. Detective Corporal Scire, with the valuable assistance of Gaithersburg Police Department patrol officers and members of the Investigations Section, weaved together an impressive investigation. The lengthy process resulted in four violent offenders and three handguns being taken off the streets.

Officer Ray Sample was recognized for providing quality police service to the residents of Gaithersburg with the Meritorious Service Citation. Sample responded to multiple attempted armed robberies in Old Towne Gaithersburg. He arrested a suspect and identified him in three other robberies. What was a quickly evolving situation, due to Officer Sample’s quick actions, he prevented further harm to the residents of Gaithersburg. This was just one of many of Officer Sample’s quality work as a police officer. His work ethic, positive attitude, and mature mindset is an example for every officer who is focused on developing trust and legitimacy in the police.


Montgomery County Police, 6th District

Corporal Joseph Marquart and Police Officers Matthew Wagner, Kelly Cox, David Hall, Anand Badgujar, Carla DeSousa, Andrew Curran, Andrew Byrd, and Rachael Bouley responded to a shooting call and found a woman with a gunshot wound to the face. She had sustained injuries to her face, head and neck. The officers not only performed life-saving measures on the victim, but they also conducted a lengthy search for the suspect in an area with very little cover and concealment. These Officers risked their lives by entering the home, unsure if the armed suspect had returned, and risked their lives and safety by entering an open field, exposing themselves to ambush by an armed suspect. They did so with the sole purpose of tracking down and arresting the perpetrator of this horrific event and to protect the public. For their actions they were awarded the Citation of Bravery.

Officers responded to a call of a man trying to commit suicide by cutting his neck. Police Officers Bryan Volz, David Hall, Andrew Curran, and Daniel Kim arrived to deescalate the situation. All four officers displayed bravery, compassion, and restraint while dealing with a suicidal man. Without regard for their own safety, they pursued who they believed to be an armed suicidal/homicidal suspect down a crowded foot path in the middle of the day to protect him and members of the public. Upon contact with him, and after several failed de-escalation attempts, the officers took decisive action which led the suspect to being safely taken into custody without further injury. For their actions they are awarded the Citation for Bravery.

Police Officers Geoff Rand and Brandy Malocha were dispatched to a stabbing in process. A man drenched in blood was being chased in a parking lot by another man wielding a knife and yelling “I’m your savior, it all makes sense now”. The victim was able to make it to his car and escape. He parked a couple streets away, where the responding officers found him suffering from severe stab wounds to the face, neck, and torso and bleeding profusely. From the time Officers Rand and Malocha arrived on scene, they maintained a calm and professional demeanor despite a very chaotic situation. Due to the uncertainty of the scene safety, fire/rescue personnel did not arrive immediately to render aid and the officers were left to stabilize the scene and the treat the victim. The officers worked as team rendering aid without hesitation to prevent any further injury to the victim.  The suspect in this case was charged and the victim made a full recovery, due to the prompt medical treatment he received. They were awarded the Citation for Bravery.


Montgomery County Police, 5th District

A man took a rope and ladder to the attic to kill himself was the call Officers Michelle Morgado and Christopher West were dispatched to. It was a chaotic scene; the man’s wife was holding his legs to try to stop him from letting go. The officers worked quickly to deescalate the situation and get the man to take to the rope off his neck. The worst happened, and the man did in fact hang himself. The officers immediately sprang into action and brought the man down, saving his life. The quick actions of these officers prevented the serious physical injury and the death of the man. Once fully suspended a subject can expire in a matter of seconds from a break in the neck and the stop of blood and air flow. Without immediate intervention suicide by hanging can cause serious brain injury. These officers did not hesitate to put themselves in harm’s way to save his life knowing full well he could potentially be armed with some other weapon to carry out his death.  If not for the officer’s intervention this subject would have either died or suffered permanent brain injury. Officers Morgado and West were award with the Distinguished Service Citation.

Police Officer Mohammad Afifi was working security at a Germantown apartment complex, when a man approached him in his vehicle and asked if he could drive him to Gaithersburg.  Afifi explained to him that he was working a secondary job and could not leave the apartment complex. Then suddenly, the man takes several steps away from the officer’s door, and pulled out a large fixed-blade knife, held the knife to his own throat and told Officer Afifi that he would just kill himself. Police Officers Glenn Altshuler and Dominic Markajani arrived on the scene and working with Afifi, they were able to get the suspect to surrender even after his multiple attempts to have the officers shoot him failed. It is believed that if these officers had unholstered their firearms, the subject would have charged at them with the knife forcing a deadly force confrontation. Instead the officers were able to peacefully negotiate with the subject and he was successfully taken into custody without injury to anyone involved. The immediate actions taken by these officers demonstrated a high level of professionalism, bravery, and officer safety tactics throughout the entirety of the event and they were awarded the Citation for Bravery.

For their quick actions, self-control and professionalism that was exhibited during one of the first protests in Montgomery County in the Spring of 2020, Corporal John Kennedy, Sergeant William Knowlden, Sergeant Neal Ridgeway, Sergeant James Ross, and Police Officer’s Matthew Frasca, Steven Pascali,  Brian Fockler, Simon Howard, Brian Alley, Naranjo-Cano, Andres, Wesley Allen, Sarah Medelin, Samantha Hunt, Mark Kopp, Jennifer Hansen, Danny Vaca, Joshua Wurst, Austin Fogarty, James Baker, Tyler Johnson, Lee Guzinski, Ryan Grzybowski, Colton Peterson, Dominic Markajani, and Mike Murphy were awarded the Distinguished Service Citation. What started off as a small-scale, unexpected group exercising their constitutional rights, turned into a massive protest of 100+ activists, and Montgomery County 5th District police officers had to quickly leap into action providing traffic and crowd control. At one point, protesters became aggressive, and officers had to protect civilians as well. This was the first of many protests that occurred in Montgomery County in the coming months, this one (unlike subsequent protests) was the first and only unexpected and unplanned one. Comments on social media, complimented the officers of the Montgomery County Police Department on their professionalism and their actions and the plan became the model on how future protests were handled in the Spring of 2020.


9-1-1 Emergency Communications Center, Montgomery County Police

Last year, the Montgomery County 911 Emergency Communications Center took over 727,000 calls for service.  Suffice it to say, any given day at the 911 center is a busy day, and calls can range from the completely mundane to absolute chaos – you never know what might be on the other end of that phone call, but the unyielding truth of 911 is that people call because they need help.  Four times last year, those calls for help resulted in 911 baby deliveries. Public Safety Emergency Communications Specialists Tamara Gual, Hayley Nelson, Diana Morales, and Cameron Ivory were awarded the Meritorious Service Citation for helping couples deliver babies in their cars, one on the side of I-270.


Montgomery County Sheriff Office
Montgomery County Sheriff Office Deputies assigned to the Domestic Violence Section, responded to a residence in Gaithersburg to attempt service of a court ordered emergency evaluation petition. Deputies were extremely concerned about the safety of this subject and his family members, due to his extensive mental health history; unprovoked threatening behavior toward random people in the community; and an obsession with knives and swords. Before arriving, they Deputies were informed that the suspect was armed with knives. Upon their arrival, they found him armed with a dagger standing near a family member. The Deputies asked him to drop the dagger and he complied. Due to quick decision making, collective effort, and crisis Intervention skills of the Deputies on scene, a critical event with someone in mental crisis that could have resulted in tragedy, was averted. The actions of the Deputies support the mission of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office’s high standard of professionalism, and commitment to treat members of the community with dignity and compassion and Deputy Sheriff Sergeant Vithaya Iem; Deputy Sheriff’s Steven McDonald, Lisa Titus; Kendra Meredith; Hector Navarrete; Gabriel Cabrera; and Deputy Sheriff K-9 Corey Clifford were awarded the Meritorious Service Citation.


Public Safety Award Sponsors

    Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling
    Montgomery County Kramer Upcounty Regional Services Center
    Montgomery Community Media
    Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center
    City of Gaithersburg
    Gaithersburg Police Foundation
    Holy Cross Health
    Hughes Network Systems
    Metropolitan Ballet Theatre and Academy
    McCarthy Wilson LLP
    Montgomery College
    Rehab 2 Perform
    Rodgers Consulting, Inc.
    Therrien Waddell, Inc.
    301 Delivery, LLC
    Aria Travel Service
    Beltway Merchant Services
    Cartridge on Wheels
    Crown Trophy
    Grace and Virtue Events, LLC
    Hughes Network Systems
    Infinite Bridge
    Jerry Therrien
    John Compton
    Lerch, Early, and Brewer, Chartered
    Mick Collins, Pay it Forward Processing
    Montgomery College
    Peterson Companies
    Redfin Real Estate – Releford
    Bargain Movers
    Crown Trophy 

The GGCC is active in providing business-to-business networking opportunities throughout the year: a collective voice in local, regional, and state legislative affairs, professional development opportunities and other services that enhance the business environment.

The GGCC is located at 910 Clopper Road, Suite 205N, Gaithersburg, MD. To learn more about the GGCC visit us at Find us! Facebook: | Twitter: @GGCCNEWS | Instagram: gburggermantownchamber #GGCCevents #GGCCpublicsafety


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Laura Rowles

About Laura Rowles

Laura authors the blog Your Success is Our Business on MyMCMedia. Laura is the Director of Events & Marketing for the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce - a member-based organization of businesses that have joined together for the purpose of promoting the civic, commercial and industrial progress in our communities. The area's economic well-being is a result of the caliber of work that is done by the Chamber. The Chamber has a major impact on business, income and future growth of the area. My position at the Chamber - Director of Events & Marketing - affords me the opportunity to plan quality events for our Members and market the Chamber is a variety of avenues. At the GGCC, we typically have around 30 events each year including: breakfasts, lunches, after-five's, ribbon cuttings and special events. The consensus is we have high quality events with good energy. In 2012, we had over 2,040 people visit our events. Most our events are free to Members so securing sponsorships for all events. Additionally, I am responsible for planning networking, overseeing the budget and marketing of all events in order to make them successful. Lastly, I coordinate all marketing and communication efforts of the GGCC including weekly email blasts, its quarterly newsletter, all social media platforms, media relations and community outreach.


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