Ferguson to hold citizens’ academy

Published 10:37 pm Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Suffolk’s Commonwealth’s Attorney is bringing his citizens’ academy program back for its fifth edition this fall. It starts next week.

A number of citizens already are signed up, but spots are still available. Those hoping to register should do so quickly.

“I think it’s important that people have an opportunity to come in and see exactly what it is that we do and how we do it,” Commonwealth’s Attorney C. Phillips “Phil” Ferguson said. “I think it’s imperative people understand how we fit into the whole judicial process.”

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On Tuesdays and Thursdays from Sept. 22 to Oct. 27, participants will learn about the work done by Ferguson’s office, as well as the functions of the other four constitutional offices — sheriff, clerk of the court, commissioner of the revenue and treasurer.

“All five of us are elected by the people,” Ferguson said. “Since they are the ones that put us in office, I think it’s imperative they learn exactly what we do for the people of Suffolk.”

Ferguson said all the employees who speak at the citizens’ academy do so on a volunteer basis.

While the other four constitutional officers will each spend part of a session talking about their duties — which will include a courthouse tour led by the sheriff’s office — participants will delve into the work of Ferguson’s office with individual sessions on several facets of the office.

Attorneys in his office will talk about the prosecution of juvenile and child abuse crimes, violent crimes, domestic violence crimes and more. Other staff members will discuss community outreach and services the office provides to victims and witnesses.

“I have always felt that the better educated a person is, they can be a better citizen,” Ferguson said. “People will be more educated and knowledgeable about how these matters are handled.”

Ferguson said the sheriff’s office will provide security in and around the building during the classes, which meet on the third floor in the jury assembly room. The program will end while it is still light outside, he added.

The academy will meet from 6 to 7:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday from Sept. 22 to Oct. 27, with the exception of Oct. 6.

An application can be downloaded from the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s website, www.suffolkva.us/cwatty, and more information can be obtained by calling Community Outreach Coordinator Joan Turner at 514-4379.