By Steve Tawa

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – One of Philadelphia’s best-known trial lawyers will be wearing a different hat this evening, when he graduates – along with cadets three and four times younger than him – from the Municipal Police Academy, at Delaware County Community College.

At 74-years-old James Binns did not set his sights on changing careers and joining a police force.

“Well I did it because I’ve been so involved with the law enforcement family since about 2001 when I did my first plaque.”

Binns, a noted philanthropist, founded the ‘Hero Plaque Program,’ which has commemorated area police officers who were killed in the line of duty.

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He’s also provided police equipment for various departments and run the Hero Thrill Show, which raises money to educate the children of fallen police and firefighters.

At the Academy, one of 15 schools statewide certified to provide official basic police training, Binns and the other cadets, including the 18-year-old who sat next to him, completed the mandatory 752-hour program, including rigorous physical, psychological, criminal law and firearms training and testing four nights a week for the last 11-months.

Academy director Bill Davis, an ex-Marine and former state police captain, says, “I told my instructors ‘do not give him any breaks. If he doesn’t make it, out the door he goes.'”

Davis says Binns excelled at every discipline and was appointed class lieutenant. “Not only did he not cause me any problems, he was a pleasure to have in the academy.”

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