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Senior Citizen Police Academy in Suffolk builds stronger relationships between law enforcement, seniors

Sergeant Eric Crawley believes the course will not only create a stronger bond between law enforcement and seniors, but also generations to come.
Credit: Brenna McIntosh/WVEC

SUFFOLK, Va. — Life-long learners. That's the motto of the Senior Citizen Police Academy in Suffolk.

"You're never too old to learn. That's the way I feel," said Carol McClelland, a Suffolk resident and student in the program. 

The academy helps keep senior residents informed and involved with their police department.

The Suffolk Police Department started the program back in 2015, however, it was put on pause for the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to high demand, the program made its return this June.

“It was a way to bridge the gap between the police department and seniors that are 55 and better,” said Sergeant Eric Crawley, who helps run the program.

Crawley said the aim of the program was to find a good way to communicate with senior residents and teach them the ins and outs of policing.

“It’s nice to be aware of what’s happening and how things are happening in Suffolk since you live there,” McClelland said.

Emily Eley, 81, said she was born and raised in Suffolk. She said this year was her third time taking the class and she thinks every police department should host something similar for its residents.

“It makes you love the police officers, love the work that they do,” Eley said. “You learn a lot. You get to see a lot – a lot that you would not believe these police officers have to do and go through,” Eley said.

The program teaches its senior students valuable knowledge, such as how to report a crime and how to avoid phone scams and identity theft.

Officers involved in the program teach the seniors all about their day-to-day activities and what exactly it takes to become a police officer. 

Some other topics discussed are the history of policing and crime prevention, along with hands-on activities and tours.

Crawley believes the course will not only create a stronger bond between law enforcement and seniors, but also generations to come.

“It not only instills trust within the seniors, but it instills trust within their children and their grandchildren,” Crawley said.

The five-and-a-half-week course ends with a graduation ceremony and certifications given to each senior.

For more information on this program, click here.

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