Public Safety Academy planned

Published 8:47 pm Saturday, January 31, 2015

Applications are now being accepted for the 2015 Suffolk Youth Public Safety Academy, an after-school program focused on at-risk youth.

The academy, sponsored by the city of Suffolk, the Suffolk Police Department and the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Department, is designed to build confidence and focus on the duties of public safety personnel in the hopes of establishing respect and trust between at-risk children and professionals.

The academy emphasizes mentoring, education, teambuilding, respect, discipline and leadership, as well as community responsibility.

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The academy provides an educational experience that includes hands-on activities based on actual public safety duties. The friendly but structured atmosphere offers positive interaction with public safety personnel that develops an appreciation for their duties.

The academy has strict rules all students are expected to follow. Class size is limited to 18 students, enabling mentors to work with the students on a one-to-one basis when necessary to address discipline issues.

Potential candidates must be between 13 and 17 years old at the time of application. Students must abide by established rules to include dress code, maintaining passing grades, and conducting themselves in a professional and mature manner. Acts of disrespect are not tolerated and are handled by the mentors with the individual student.

Twice-weekly classes will start March 3 and run through May 1, from 3 to 7 p.m. Classes will be held at Suffolk Fire and Rescue Station 6, located at 300 Kings Fork Road. A graduation ceremony will be held in Suffolk City Council Chambers for students who successfully complete the course. There will be a mandatory orientation Feb. 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Station 6.

Classes include a snack, meal, transportation to and from Station 6 and one or two weekend field trips. Students are required to identify, design and participate in a community service project. Attendance is mandatory.

Applicants are screened and chosen by the mentors, which include a fire marshal and fire trainer, school resource officer and supervisor, family service detective and Western Tidewater Community Services Board counselor.

Instructors include police officers, firefighters, forensic unit, assistant Commonwealth’s Attorneys, ABC agents, Attorney General’s office and Nightingale staff.

Class topics include fire safety, defensive tactics, police SWAT, use of fire extinguishers, gangs, police K-9, health, ladder techniques, fire hoses, forensics, confined space training, computer safety, arson investigation, team building, active school shooter safety, police marine patrol, use of ropes and more.

There is no cost to participants. The application deadline is Feb. 6 at 5 p.m. Applications are available from Suffolk school resource officers, the Kings Fork Public Safety Center (300 Kings Fork Road), and Suffolk Police Headquarters (111 Henley Place). Applications also may be obtained by contacting Fire Investigator Pam King at 514-4542 or Detective Joyce Williams at 514-7942.