Citizen police, civic leagues link hands

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 18, 2002

The Tenth Session of the Suffolk Police Departments’ &uot;Citizens’ Police Academy&uot; will start Tuesday, Sept. 3. This event is a much sought after affair for many residents because it can lead local civic groups in establishing a &uot;Neighborhood Watch,&uot; a program that helps ordinary people fight crime in their community.

Suffolk’s academy classes are held from 6:30 to 10 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday in the Suffolk Police Headquarters Assembly Room, 120 N. Wellons St.

The two Saturday sessions will consist of a field trip to the Mills Godwin Court Complex, and the Police Academy Range where firearm safety will be taught. There will also be a field trip to Western Tidewater Regional Jail and a Marine Operations demonstration.

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Academy participants must be at least 21 years old and a resident of Suffolk or work in the city.

Suffolk Police Officers Junius Jackson and John Cooke meet with members of civic leagues to provide information and advice on how to establish the Neighborhood Watch.

Wesley Benn is a member of the Skeetertown Civic League. He said the Neighborhood Watch in his area has been instrumental in reducing crime there.

Benn also noted that the Citizen Police Academy is a valuable tool in training people in how to react when criminal activities are observed. He said the academy is pivotal to the success of the Watch.

&uot;I went to a meeting at city hall with all the civic leagues and Suffolk is on the ball with respect to &uot;Homeland Security’ organization,&uot; said Benn. &uot;I would recommend the police academy to anyone for training. It can only enhance your Neighborhood Watch. As for the Skeetertown Neighborhood Watch, we will soon have our sign in place through a grant through the police department.&uot;

Donna Perry and Connie and Darrell Scott are graduates of the Citizen Police Academy. They noted that the training they received has been instrumental in cleaning up crime from their Kingsboro neighborhood.

&uot;We had people stealing from us and one night I watched as some guys were at a local car dealership and we called police,&uot; said Perry. &uot;We’ve seen people walking through the area who did not belong there and we knew they were looking for something to pick up. We (several neighbors) watched them and it made them so uncomfortable they finally left the area. At all times, the police department has arrived almost as soon as we’ve called them.&uot;

The Scotts moved into the Kingsboro neighborhood just a few years ago, however, they have proven their dedication to preserving the area and cleaning up the streets with respect to crime.

&uot;We had already had a couple thousand dollars worth of things stolen from our property when we decided we had to do something,&uot; said Connie Scott, who serves as president of the Kingsboro Civic League. &uot;The final straw was the elderly gentleman being robbed several times. That was just it. Darrell and I both attended the police academy and it was good training and taught us a lot about how to avoid being a victim as well as how to handle situations when we observe a crime. I would think every citizen would want to attend.&uot;

Citizen Police Academy applications may be obtained at Suffolk’s Public Libraries, the Municipal Center information desk, Sector One Precinct, Sector Two Precinct, Police Headquarters, Suffolk Animal Control on Forest Glen Rd., or from the police department’s Web site at

For further information, contact Cooke or Jackson of the department’s Community Services Division at 923-2355.