Citizen cop school taking applications

SUWANEE - If you've ever wondered what cops do on a day-to-day basis, Suwanee police are willing to show you.

In February, the department will host its 15th Citizens Police Academy, an 8-week course created to help citizens better understand "the issues, tactics and risks associated with law enforcement." It is also geared to bridge the gap that sometimes exists between a city's police and its residents.

"It takes the mystery out of the work that police do," said Suwanee police Sgt. Elias Casanas. "We are interested in creating a good relationship with the people we serve."

Casanas said through the academy, the department has made "many law-abiding friends," many of whom have come back and volunteered their time to help police.

"We swore to protect and serve - why not create a friendship in the process?" Casanas said.

During the program, officers will share their knowledge and experiences with citizens, who will participate in ridealongs and be a part of vehicle stops, roll call and certain responses to criminal calls. They will get an inside look at department budgeting and equipment such as speed detection devices.

Applicants must be at least 19 years old and can have no felony convictions or recent, repeated lesser offenses, Casanas said. While the department gives preference to those who live or work in Suwanee, the program is open to everyone.

"We do not turn anyone away if we can help it," Casanas said.

The Suwanee Police Department's motto is "Strengthen the bridge through understanding, empathy and cooperation," and that is exactly what it hopes this program will help accomplish.

"In my personal opinion, this is the spirit of American policing," he said. "We are proud of the service that we are providing. We want people to know it."

Applications, which must be notarized, can be found at www.suwanee.com. They will be accepted until Jan. 23.