Sign on to law enforcement

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 28, 2003

Suffolk police officers John K. Cooke and Junius J. Jackson are looking for people who want to get involved in law enforcement in the community. That involvement can help people stop crime in their neighborhoods through learning how to help police keep criminals out of the area.

That learning comes through a wide variety of activities and field trips including one to the Chesapeake Public Safety Academy firing range. All this and much more is part of the training participants would receive in the &uot;11th Session of the Citizen’s Police Academy&uot; which kicks off on Tuesday, April 1. Any person age 21 or older is encouraged to attend this informative program of 17 sessions.

Cooke, who is also of the Police Department’s Community Services Division, said the academy would feature two special events that would take place on separate Saturdays.

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&uot;The academy classes take place each Tuesday and Thursday evening from 6:30 to 9 p.m.,&uot; said Cooke. &uot;Candidates meet at the Police Department’s Assembly Room, located at 120 N. Wellons St. in Downtown Suffolk.&uot;

Jackson added that the two Saturday sessions would consist of a field trip to the Police Academy Firing Range. While there, participants will learn safe firearms handling through actual hands-on experience.

&uot;Participants in the academy would also learn about Western Tidewater Regional Jail on one of those Saturday field trips,&uot; he said. &uot;And, there is also an excursion to observe a demonstration in marine operations, and an exhibition of the Community Emergency Response Team.&uot;

Ray Harris, an Auxiliary officer of the Suffolk Police Department, also serves as one of the speakers during the academy sessions. He said each participant in the Citizen’s Police Academy must either live or work in Suffolk.

During the training in the academy, participants will get to listen as police officers, detectives, crime scene investigators, and alumni of previous sessions speak on their experiences in law enforcement.

Suffolk’s commonwealth’s attorney, C. Philips Ferguson, and his assistants often discuss crime and punishment in Suffolk.

Participants in the academy will also get a look at the Godwin Courts Building courtrooms in operation.

Often after completing the police academy sessions, citizens take the initiative to establish a &uot;Neighborhood Watch,&uot; a program they learned about in the academy. It is one more tool a &uot;civilian&uot; can use to help police clean up the crime in a neighborhood.

There is always a great deal to learn and plenty of exciting activity during the sessions and the signups are always filled up fast. To assure a spot in the April 1session, be sure to sign up as soon as possible.

Anyone interested in becoming a candidate should pick up an application at any Suffolk Public Library, the Municipal Center information desk at Market Street, Police Department Sector One or Two Precinct Headquarters, Police Department Headquarters on Wellons St., Suffolk Animal Control on Forest Glen Dr., and the Community Services Section Sub-Station located at John F. Kennedy Middle School. Applications are also available on the police department’s Web site at

For more information about the Citizen’s Police Academy, contact Cooke or Jackson at the department’s Community Services Section at 923-2355 or 923-2358.