Get informed with free Citizens Academy

Published 10:06 pm Thursday, January 9, 2020

Suffolk citizens can now register for the eighth annual Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Citizens Academy and become more informed about the mission, policies and day-to-day operations of their Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. This free, four-week program will be held from Feb. 27 to March 26.

The curriculum will teach Suffolk adults about criminal law and decisions made by the Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, and also more about the four other constitutional offices: Clerk of the Circuit Court, Commissioner of the Revenue, Sheriff’s Office and Treasurer’s Office.

“I think it’s very important, in today’s world especially, that citizens know what their representatives are doing in terms of criminal justice issues,” said Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Phil Ferguson. “Those are very important things to have. The more educated the public is, the better.”

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The class will meet twice weekly at the Godwin Courts Building on North Main Street to become more aware about the realities of crimes and criminal justice proceedings from different guest speakers.

For instance, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kara Webber and Brittany Landon, assistant director for victim/witness services, will discuss domestic violence cases in one session. Another session will cover juvenile and domestic relations court cases, with the discussion led by Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Marie Walls.

Participants will be able to ask questions and clear up any misconceptions they may have about what really goes on in these cases.

“We eliminate a lot of misconceptions, because they are able to ask whatever question is on their mind,” Ferguson said.

It has become a very popular component of the Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office outreach efforts each year, including some returning students from previous Citizens Academy years.

The academy encourages open lines of communication and cooperation between Suffolk citizens, their city officials and local law enforcement.

“I’ve always believed that if law enforcement and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office work in conjunction with the citizens, then that’s the best way to have a strong public safety presence in one’s city,” Ferguson said. “That’s what we’ve always tried to do in Suffolk, and this is part of that.”

The eighth annual Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Citizens Academy will begin on Feb. 27 and end on March 26 with a graduation and reception. The program will meet from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays in the jury room on the third floor of the Godwin Courts Building, 150 N. Main St.

All adults who are interested in attending this free class must apply for admission, and applications must be turned in before Feb. 19.

Applications are available online on the Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s webpage at For more information, contact Community Outreach Coordinator Joan Turner at 514-4379.