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Ferguson starts citizens’ academy

Published 10:36pm Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Slots are filling up for the first Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Citizens Academy.

The free 10-session course, which begins next month, will educate up to 30 participants on the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office, what it does and how it does it, Commonwealth’s Attorney C. Phillips Ferguson said.

“We thought it would be an educational and positive thing for the public to see exactly what the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office does,” Ferguson said. “We think it’s important to keep the public as educated as we can.”

The course will feature numerous staff in the office speaking about their specialties, including violent crimes, drugs, gangs, identity theft, fraud, sex crimes, victim and witness services and community outreach.

In addition, Clerk of Court Randy Carter and Sheriff Raleigh Isaacs each will spend a session talking on their offices’ duties.

Ferguson said all the class leaders are volunteering their time, so there will be no cost to the taxpayers.

Joan Jones, community outreach coordinator for the office, said she wanted to start the academy because similar programs been done in the police department, where she worked previously.

“Anytime you can better educate the citizenry, it’s good public policy,” Ferguson said.

He said people who are more educated about what’s going on in their city are less likely to become victims.

“A lot of what we do occurs after we have a victim,” he said. “We want to educate them beforehand.”

He wants to make the program a recurring one, at least on an annual basis, he said.

The program begins on Nov. 8 and runs Tuesdays and Thursdays through Dec. 13, excluding Thanksgiving. Each session lasts from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Mills Godwin Courthouse, 150 N. Main St.

To sign up, call 514-4379 to have an application mailed to you, or visit www.suffolkva.us/cwatty/news.html to download an application. The deadline to apply is Oct. 26.

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