Citizens academy set

Published 10:31 pm Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office will host its third annual Citizens Academy this fall, and the deadline for application is coming up in a week.

The program offers citizens a free opportunity to learn more about the duties and function of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office, as well as about the other four constitutional officers — sheriff, clerk of the court, commissioner of the revenue and treasurer.

“I think it’s always helpful to citizens to know what is going on in their government,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Phil Ferguson said. “Anytime we can educate the public about what we do, it’s transparent, it’s open, and it’s a positive thing.”

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The program will meet every Tuesday and Thursday from Sept. 25 to Oct. 30, except for Oct. 9.

Ten employees of Ferguson’s office will give overviews and answer questions about their duties, including members of the violent crime, general crime and juvenile and domestic relations teams, the chief investigator, victim/witness services and community outreach.

Ferguson himself will speak, and his constitutional office counterparts will also lead the last two class sessions, with a courthouse tour by Sheriff Raleigh Isaacs.

Ferguson said what citizens learn in the academy could be helpful to them in avoiding becoming a crime victim.

“Every person we can keep from becoming a victim, that’s one less person that has a negative experience happen to them,” Ferguson said. “And if for some reason they become a victim of a crime, they will know how to deal with the system.”

Learning about the different resources available in the court clerk’s office, how the sheriff helps keep the city safe and how the treasurer and commissioner of revenue work together to keep the city’s financial house in order is also helpful, Ferguson said.

Community outreach coordinator Joan Turner said sheriff’s deputies will patrol the courthouse building during the classes and escort folks to their cars after it’s over, so “safety is not an issue.”

The class also will wrap up before daylight saving time ends, Ferguson noted.

“We think that will be helpful to people,” he said.

Applications can be obtained by calling 514-4379 or visiting Applicants must pass a background check.

The deadline is Sept. 18.