Senior citizens learn about police department

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – Police in Chesterfield County have a new ally - crime fighting citizens all over the age of 55. They're enrolled in the Citizens Academy- learning about crime and how to stop it.

It's never a good idea to run from the cops; especially when a K-9 officer is at your heels. Fortunately this apprehension is a demonstration for two dozen senior citizens interested in the Chesterfield Police Department.

"Oh that was like fantastic. I just don't want to be the man on the run," said Elsie Martin.

"We saw the dogs. We saw the forensics.  We saw the detectives and so forth," Jerry Gianatiempo said.

Jerry Gianatiempo is 8 weeks into the 10 week Citizens Academy. At 70-years-old he's quick as a whip- absorbing information.

"We are sometimes targets because of our age," he said.

In addition to experiencing all aspects of the department: fraud, scams, and personal safety are highlighted in this free program.

"I'm much more aware of my surroundings," said Jerry Horton.

And Cynthia Ingram is much more aware of what "a day in the life" is really like.

"Forensics especially, some of the things that they have to do- how they handle things- was a little surprising," said Ingram.

Officer Tim Lamb, who heads the class, says what's most surprising for him is the change in attitude.

"During the academy, the person came to me and said, 'you know when I started this class I really had a bad outlook on the police departments because of my past experiences. And you all have really opened my eyes,'" said Lamb. "It pays off for us because we foster those relationships during the academy."

In fact, after participating in the academies, these senior citizens become a vital tool for the police department serving as volunteers. Of the 200 who donate their time to the department - 75 are seniors.

In the last five years, volunteers saved the Chesterfield Police Department $3.4-million by doing things like delivering mail, working with Crime Solvers, or assisting motorists.

"Senior citizens can contribute a great deal," said Horton.

This class could soon be the next contributors. No matter their age, don't count them out- they're eyes are always watching.

To learn more about Chesterfield's Citizens Academy or to find out how to volunteer with the police department, click here.

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