Fort Belvoir Police’s Community Relations Liaison wants to hear from residents, mayors

By Paul LaraNovember 1, 2023

Lt. Amani Simpson-Stokes, Fort Belvoir Police Department Community Relations Liaison
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Lt. Amani Simpson-Stokes, Fort Belvoir Police Department Community Relations Liaison (Photo Credit: Paul Lara) VIEW ORIGINAL
Steven Kinchen, Chief, Fort Belvoir Police Department
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Steven Kinchen, Chief, Fort Belvoir Police Department (Photo Credit: Paul Lara) VIEW ORIGINAL

Lt. Amani Simpson-Stokes wears several hats for the Fort Belvoir Police Department. One of her favorites is that of Community Relations Liaison where she serves as a direct point of contact between the police department and the larger community on post. Whether Simpson-Stokes is meeting with Belvoir’s residents, village mayors, or the numerous local businesses concerned about emergency services, interacting with people is the key to her success.

“I've always been the officer that gets out of the car and walks around the neighborhood and the PX to meet all the people,” Simpson-Stokes said. “I want to know everybody's name - it was a role made for me.”

Simpson-Stokes said that in resuming this position, which had been suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic and resumed late last year, there is a lot of flexibility to decide who and to meet with in the Fort Belvoir community. She said her current focus is communicating with the mayors in each of the 15 Villages, since each has its own distinct challenges.

“I would like to meet one-on-one with all the mayors and housing managers,” she said. “I also make sure that I speak with the housing managers to address their concerns and resolve non-emergency calls, parking complaints, and other issues. I want to bridge the gap between the community and all emergency relations if I can.”

Fort Belvoir Police Chief Steven Kinchen said it is vital to forge alliances between the police and the community to “break stereotypical barriers which side the police against the community,”

“I know the importance of a Police Community Liaison, who represents the voice of the Police Department while addressing community challenges,” he added.

Kinchen said the monthly mayor’s meetings is where Lt. Simpson-Stokes helps strategize practical solutions with the Garrison staff and village mayors regarding law enforcement concerns.

Simpson-Stokes said she takes pride in being a Fort Belvoir police officer, even though she doesn’t recall a specific moment when policing became her passion. She said it’s something that has always resonated with her growing up in Prince George’s County, Md.

“My mom would tell me that I've always had a protective spirit, even as a young child,” she said. “I don't like to see people getting messed with or mistreated. In doing the work, the prayer and everything else, I think God just kind of guided my steps - and here I am. I just like to protect people and make people feel better, and somehow this is where I ended up.”

She said that a key aspect of her job is communicating with children under relaxed circumstances, so they will be more likely to approach a police officer when the need arises.

“I'm always approachable. If they have a question, they can ask me. I don't want them to ever think that they can't talk to me, or that their kids can’t come up to me - I always have stickers,” she said, smiling and patting a pocket on her vest.

Kinchen said Community Relations Liaison is one part of attaining installation readiness, as well as a safe and secure community.

“Fort Belvoir Police are on the right path, getting back to a ‘people first’ mentality,” he said, “and Lt. Simpson-Stokes is helping usher us towards that goal.”