Graduates complete citizens’ academy

Published 9:34 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

Participants in the first Suffolk Commonwealth's Attorney's Citizens' Academy gather for a photo with Commonwealth's Attorney C. Phillips "Phil" Ferguson, second from right in seated row.

Nearly four dozen Suffolk citizens graduated from the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s first Citizens’ Academy Thursday.

The free 10-session course exposed citizens to the work performed by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office and featured guest presentations on the work of the Sheriff’s Department and Clerk of the Circuit Court.

“I thought it was a wealth of information,” said April Beck-Miller, who attended the program. “It was a good opportunity for the citizens to build relationships with the Commonwealth’s Attorney.”

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Commonwealth’s Attorney C. Phillips “Phil” Ferguson said the response to the program has been positive.

“We are very pleased,” he said. “Our goal was to have 30 (participants), and we ended up with 45. I think it indicated there was a demand from the people for this kind of information.”

The program included presentations from Ferguson and many of his staff, including those who handle community outreach and Victim/Witness Services. Prosecutors spoke on various types of prosecution they specialize in, such as those for violent crimes, sex crimes, gang offenses, financial crimes and more.

Geraldine Outterbridge said she learned that Ferguson and his staff are “a stand-up group.”

“I gained a lot of useful information that I should have had five years ago,” she said.

Another participant, Joan Hass, said she was “really impressed with how well all the departments get along and the depth of all their experience and knowledge.”

Ferguson said he hopes to offer the program at least once a year, if not more, in the future.

“I think the people learned a lot,” he said. “I firmly believe that the better educated your citizens are, the better your city will be.”