League to show its appreciation

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 2, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Kingsboro resident Donna Perry and the members of the &uot;Citizens Academy Alumni of Suffolk (CAAS),&uot; are out to stage the best ever &uot;Public Safety Officer Appreciation Day&uot; Saturday as they kick off festivities at Coulbourn Park on Constance Road.

In fact, last year’s first event was so successful that Perry and CAAS began working on Saturday’s event immediately after that first Appreciation Day. This year, Perry also urged Suffolk Mayor E. Dana Dickens III to sign a proclamation setting aside May 3 each year as Public Safety Officer Appreciation Day.

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As president of CAAS, Perry and the membership has worked hard to organize the second annual event. Perry believes there are others in the community who would like to show Suffolk Police and Fire personnel and members of the Bennett’s Creek and Nansemond-Suffolk Rescue Squads how much their services are truly appreciated.

&uot;We would like to invite the public to stop by the park, the police precincts, fire departments, and rescue squads to drop off a token of appreciation,&uot; said Perry. &uot;Even a thank you card, a vase of flowers, or box of candy or cookies for them would be nice.&uot;

Saturday’s festivities will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. as CAAS kicks of the day now set aside to

recognize significant contributions or achievements made by police, fire and rescue departments throughout the year. The events are open to public safety personnel and their families.

&uot;Together, the police, fire and rescue departments have over 400 employees,&uot; said Perry. &uot;To thank each and every one individually would be impossible. Those that do the most often get thanked the least. I believe their bravery and heroism is worthy of everyone’s respect and remembering.&uot;

Perry isn’t talking a game, for she knows what goes on in the day of a public safety employee. She’s a graduate of the citizen’s police and fire academies.

&uot;I think the &uot;911&uot; attacks raised everybody’s awareness of what the ultimate cost of their jobs could be,&uot; said Perry. &uot;Without dedicated law enforcement professionals, like our local departments… those willing to assume the risks of their profession… we would be ruled by a lawless anarchy of criminal behavior. Without their commitment and willingness to assume the risks of their professions, our lives and property would be at constant risk of destruction by fire, vandalism and harm. We depend on them to keep our families safe. I have the highest regard for each one of them.&uot;

Perry added that while she’s been blessed with never having to call &uot;911,&uot; there are thousands of Suffolk residents who have faced emergency situations.

&uot;They have always had someone there – ready and willing to help,&uot; she added. &uot;It is, indeed, fitting that we take time to recognize their invaluable contribution to our daily lives, and I want to personally thank Suffolk Police Department, Suffolk Fire Department, Suffolk Sheriffs Office, Nansemond-Suffolk Rescue Squad and Tidewater Regional Jail who do so much to ensure that Suffolk is a safe place to live.&uot;

During Saturday’s festivities, CAAS will announce the person chosen as &uot;Public Safety Officer of The Year.&uot; Last year’s Officer of the Year, Sergeant Tim N. Duncan, and his family were treated to a family weekend in Williamsburg. Sgt. Duncan also received a plaque marking the occasion.

Some of the notables expected at this year’s festivities include Senator and Mrs. Fred Quayle; U.S. Representative Randy Forbes; Maralyn &uot;Mad Dog&uot; Hershey of &uot;Survivor&uot; fame; Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett, and other local government officials will be attending.

CAAS has also prepared a special menu for the day consisting of homemade barbecue, hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans, cole slaw, snow cones, popcorn and more. All the food items were donated by local merchants, and Smithfield Packing donated 53 Boston butts.

&uot;I called businesses to request donations for the foods and I was surprised to hear so many respond with a thank you for calling,&uot; said Perry. &uot;Suffolk’s business community is so unique and generous and they truly give back to our public safety personnel in this manner.&uot;

Activities for the day include horseshoes, volleyball, sack races, clowns, face painting, the YMCA Interactive Bus, counting and coloring contests for the children, crafts and more. Perry said CAAS will also give away dozens of raffle prizes, also donated by local merchants.

&uot;I would like to ask all citizens to join with us in showing appreciation this Saturday, May 3 to our public safety officers,&uot; said Perry. &uot;Anyone who would like to contribute a box of candy, flowers, cookies, or any other items is invited to stop by the police precincts, fire departments, or rescue squads to drop off a thank you gift. These people are so truly deserving of your appreciation.&uot;

For officers on duty in North Suffolk, Chuckatuck, Whaleyville, and Holland, lunches will be delivered by members of CAAS, just as they were in the first event in 2002. All officers working in Downtown Suffolk may stop by Coulbourn Park on Constance Road to pick up a meal and participate in festivities, games and raffles.