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Column

Week 2’s journey through Citizens Police Academy

Second class focuses on domestic violence and common scams

Well, I survived Week 2 of the Princeton Citizens Police Academy. The second class of the series was held Wednesday evening at the police station. The session seemed a little laid back compared to the week before. There were no tours, but the information discussed was very informative and interesting.

The class listened in on two different presentations. The first was on domestic violence and the services provided by Freedom House. The second was on scams.

Brenda Salas-Cisco, a bilingual shelter advocate, and Dorothy Voice, office advocate, led the presentation on Freedom House, which provides confidential, free services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Princeton Police Chief Tom Kammerer said when he moved to Princeton from big Naperville, he was impressed to discover a resource like Freedom House in an area of this size. He said he couldn’t say enough good things about what Freedom House does for the community. The police department and Freedom House work hand-in-hand when in comes to domestic violence and sexual assault cases.

While much of the funding for Freedom House comes through grants, Salas-Cisco said the organization also receives a lot of community support through donations and fundraisers.

“The donations are unbelievable,” she said.

Community members have played a big part in donating things like food, clothing, furniture and personal hygiene products for the shelter. The boutiques in Princeton donate some of their clothing, which was pretty amazing to hear. Kids work on service projects throughout the year for the organization. It’s great to know that the community really rallies around a much-needed resource.

Interesting fact I learned about Freedom House — it’s not just women who go to the shelter. There are a handful of guys who also seek assistance from Freedom House.

Part two of Wednesday’s class focused on scams. It was presented by Princeton Police Investigator Ben Atkinson.

Atkinson reviewed a long list of scams he’s dealt with over the years. When a scam is reported to Princeton Police, the initial report ends up on his desk.

Atkinson said there’s a stack of scam reports about as tall as him in his office, but unfortunately, out of that many cases, he’s been able to solve only one case.

That’s the big problem with scams — they’re difficult to track down, and many times, the scammers are overseas, and nothing can be done at that point in an investigation when it ends up out of the country.

Atkinson called scams the crime of the 21st century. He said statistics show that Americans lose around $12.76 billion annually to fraud.

What’s the area’s more common scam? The grandparents scam. It’s when a caller will target an elderly person and claims to be one of their grandchildren who is in some sort of legal trouble and needs money wired to them now.

Atkinson said if it’s urgent or if a deal seems too good to be true, always say no. In fact, his motto is, “Always say no. You can research and then say yes, but you can never go back after an initial yes.”

Note to readers: Goldie Rapp is a senior staff writer for the Bureau County Republican. Her email address is grapp@bcrnews.com.

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