Seniors graduate from Citizens Academy

Published 11:23 pm Thursday, August 16, 2018

Twenty seniors graduated from the Suffolk Police Department’s Senior Citizens Academy on Wednesday.

Suffolk officials cheered alongside friends and family as each graduate received a certificate for completing the nine-week academy during the ceremony in City Council Chambers.

The academy, which began in June, gave seniors the opportunity to learn practical advice on how to make themselves safer in the community and how local law enforcement operates.

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“They’ve received what we would kind of call the Cliffs Notes version of a very thick and multifaceted novel, which is entitled ‘The Suffolk Police Department,’” Suffolk Police Department Maj. Steve Patterson said at the ceremony.

Participants met once a week for topics such as active shooter response, crime scene investigations, crime prevention, hostage negotiations and S.W.A.T. They also learned about the history of law enforcement, going back to Sir Robert Peel’s establishment of the London Metropolitan Police Force in 1829.

“At our age, it’s difficult to make any of us do anything that we don’t want to,” class speaker Bruce Garris said at the ceremony with the audience laughing, “so it’s a major accolade to the training department and the representatives from individual departments for providing such high-quality instruction that kept us attending for nine weeks of training. Hats off!”

The seniors were encouraged to keep their cars and homes locked and secured as part of the department’s “Lock It, Don’t Lose It” campaign to prevent theft. Garris said they also understood the rigorous training and dedication that’s required of each police officer in their city.

“We have discovered that police officers don’t have jobs. Being a police officer is part of their individual constitution,” he said. “They love what they do for a living, and they thoroughly enjoy serving the public.”

Patterson said the purpose of the academy is to promote department transparency while the citizens build better relationships with the officers. That was evident when they gave rousing applause to Master Police Officer James Babor, who assisted throughout the nine weeks of academy.

“I hope when you hear people who may have misconceived perceptions of the police and what they do and why they do it, that you can educationally set them straight,” Patterson said. “I hope also that when you go back into your communities, you may be able to spread some knowledge, make your neighbors safer and make yourself safer.”