Petersburg Sheriff's Office kicks off new initiatives within community
By Sarah Steele Wilson, Newsroom Editor
Jan 17, 2013, 12:11
photo by Sarah Steele Wilson Gabriel Booker, Joshua Litkett, Antione Moss Jr., and Cory Todd are sworn in at the start of Sheriff’s new Star Force Academy initiative.
The people standing in Petersburg Circuit Court raising their hands to be sworn in as sheriff’s deputies on Monday afternoon were unique.
They were members of two first-time groups: The Petersburg Sheriff’s Office Star Force Academy and the Petersburg Sheriff’s Auxiliary Deputies.
The Star Force Academy consists entirely of young people with intellectual disabilities.
“Our goal in developing this program is to enhance the relationship between the law enforcement community and our youth with intellectual disabilities who have an interest in law enforcement,” Sheriff Vanessa Crawford stated in an e-mail.
Speaking to the parents of the first group of Star Force Academy Deputies in the court room on Monday afternoon, Crawford made a promise.
“We promise to take care of them,” she said. “We promise to look out for them and we promise to pledge our support to them continuously, so they can be the citizens of Petersburg we know they can be.”
Randi Litkett, whose son was amongst the crowd of new deputies, said that she thought the program would be an excellent way to instill a sense of community in her son.
“I think it’s an extremely good mentoring program,” she said, noting it builds character and a talent for teamwork.
Crawford, a former member of the Petersburg School Board, said that a love of her city and its young people was part of her motivation in establishing the program.
“My heart is Petersburg, so anything I can do for those who are not as fortunate as others, I’m always looking for ways to do that type of thing,” she said.
photo by Sarah Steele Wilson Gabriel Booker, Joshua Litkett, Cory Todd and Antoine Moss Jr. at the swearing in.
The Sheriff’s Office is partnering with the school division on the initiative, which will teach the cadets about the duties of a Deputy Sheriff, including providing court and jail security.
The first activity on the docket for the new deputies is a trip to the Polar Plunge Winter Festival in Virginia Beach, an annual event that raises money for the Special Olmypics.
The Auxiliary Deputies are another first-time initiative for the Petersburg Sheriff’s Office.
The volunteer deputies will assist the Sheriff’s Office with funeral escorts and traffic directing.
photo by Sarah Steele Wilson Community volunteers raise their hands as they are sworn in as auxiliary deputies.
“It’s my pleasure to swear each of you in,” Judge Pamela Baskerville said, looking at the uniformed crowd. “What an honor.”