Suwanee police to offer parent, teen driving course

SUWANEE - The Suwanee Police Department will have its hands full for the next two months as officers help educate the city.

In addition to fighting and preventing crime, the department will offer a parent and teen driver education class later this month as well as a Citizen's Police Academy to begin in October.

Suwanee Police Department Sgt. Elias Casanas Jr. said the Georgia Teens Ride with PRIDE (Parents Reducing the Incidence of Driver Error) program started in conjunction with The Governor's Office of Highway Safety and The University of Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute.

"This is a proactive step to safety," Casanas said of the program.

Casanas said this is the fourth year the program has been in place in Suwanee. He said the program runs six times a year, with the September class being the third in 2007.

The class for teens and their parents will begin at 9 a.m. Sept. 29 at the Suwanee Crossroads Center at 323 Buford Highway.

A parent or guardian must be present during the entire two-hour session, Casanas said. The class is free but registration is required.

Casanas said parents and teens are together for the first hour, but then split up for individual classes. He said both teens and their parents are learning the same laws but without the teens feeling pressure from being with a room full of parents or vice versa.

Casanas said the program is an effort to make teens better drivers and prevent teen wrecks. Teenage participants will receive a certificate at the end of the program that may help lower their insurance premiums.

Casanas said the department is offering another free program that will start this fall.

The department's Citizen's Police Academy, an eight-week course, is slated to begin Oct. 2 and will take place at 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday at the George Pierce Park Community Center.

Casanas said Suwanee officers will cover topics including crime scene investigations, firearms safety, traffic stops, crime prevention and motor vehicle enforcement. Participants also have an opportunity to run radar, ride along with an officer, practice traffic stops and search buildings.

"We've been doing this since 2001, and it's been a hoot," Casanas sad. "The officers and the people have learned a lot together."

Casanas said the program is an effort to educate the community about law enforcement.

"What we do for a living is not a secret," Casanas said. "This (academy) is to teach the community why we do what we do."

Participants will receive a certificate at the end of the eight weeks and have the opportunity to volunteer as an official Suwanee Police Department volunteer. Casanas said a graduation and dinner concludes the class.

Applications for both programs are available by contacting Casanas by e-mail at elias@suwanee.com or by phone at 770-945-8995, ext. 327. Applications for both programs are due by Sept. 14.