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Belvoir Police Sgt. Chris Metcalf monitors driver’s speeds in this 2019 file photo, but police can’t be everywhere, so Chief Anthony Jackson is creating community oriented policing to be the eyes of the department in the community.

The Fort Belvoir Police Department is working on ways to make life on the installation safer through a Community Oriented Policing initiative, according to Police Chief Anthony Jackson.

“With Community Oriented Policing, we want to bridge the gap between police and residents,” Jackson said. “We want to give the community members more responsibility to make their own communities better. This can reduce crime and traffic offenses through a second set of eyes while we’re not there.”

Jackson said this initial phase is to create the administrative framework. Each Village will have a police department watch commander, lieutenant or sergeant to provide training on how to report suspicious activity, and what to look for, giving them keys for accurate reporting.

“No one is immune to crime,” Jackson said. “We plan to work hand-in-hand with the village mayors, and tie them in to our communications, so they will have direct contact with police if something needs to happen, or they need to mitigate any situation.”

Building relationships

“We’re very excited about Chief Jackson’s initiative to implement Community Oriented Policing here on Fort Belvoir,” said John Moeller, PhD, deputy to the Garrison commander. “Community oriented policing focuses on building a working, trusting relationship between police and the community they protect.”

For Service members, ‘see something, say something’ is a duty, and something Soldiers are familiar with. But Capt. Ronald Horne, Fort Belvoir Police supervisory detective, said that can sometimes be lost on family members. While Soldiers are accountable to report something, he said family members may be unsure about what is, or is not, reportable.

“In reality, it’s a gut feeling. When that happens, it’s not their job to investigate, but to notify the authorities,” Horne said. “We don’t mind the phone call, we investigate and come out and see what is making the general community unsettled. Even a school bag full of books shouldn’t be there. If it was an innocent case of forgetfulness, we can help return the belongings to the owner. “

Horne said It’s important, in the moment, to note as many details as you can, as specific details can fade from memory the longer it is from the incident.

Communication is key

“If you have a complaint – whether its speeders or suspicious activity – it’s very important that we have open lines of communication between the residents,” said Jackson. “We want them to report it, but not to engage in any way. That’s our job.”

“Any time you have communications with your neighbor, it’s a good thing,” Horne said. “The more communication, the stronger your community becomes. It breeds solidarity when you look out for their car, or their dog in the back yard. It doesn’t have to be hanging out for dinner every night.”

The COP initiative will continue implementation and training through the spring, with Jackson estimating a full community roll-out this summer.

Chief Jackson stressed if you feel there’s imminent danger to people or property, always call 911. Otherwise, contact the police business line at 703-806-3014.