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Suwanee touts new crime-fighting tools

SUWANEE - Sophisticated crimes call for sophisticated push back.

That's the opinion of Suwanee city officials, who announced new crime-fighting measures designed to assist the once-sleepy city in confronting continued growth.

Beginning this week, the Suwanee Police Department has activated a permanent DUI task force, designating a specially trained officer with one specific purpose: to sweep roadways of impaired drivers, said Suwanee city spokeswoman Lynne DeWilde.

Police Chief Mike Jones said Suwanee's growth over the years has created the need for the specialized task force. Back in pre-recession 2006, Suwanee had packed on an additional 11.7 percent in residents (up to 14,034) from the previous year.

The city has grown from about 10,000 in 2000 to 16,000 in 2008, according to Census data.

In time, an additional officer may be added to the DUI task force roster, DeWilde said. Suwanee police made 112 DUI arrests last year.

"The laws related to the prosecution of DUI have become so complex that there's a need for officers who are specially trained in the field," said Jones, the chief.

In another pilot program debuting recently, Suwanee police are testing their acumen with a Segway - that futuristic, two-wheeled people-mover - loaned from a local company offering Segway tours.

"We're able to evaluate the Segway as a viable solution without expending funds," DeWilde said. "It's possible that (purchasing one or more of the transporters) could be considered in the city's next budget cycle for fiscal year 2011."

The Segway - which goes only 12 mph - allows more officers to patrol Suwanee's parks because it requires less training than bike patrols, said Sgt. Nick Jacobs. Five officers have been adequately trained to operate the loaned transporter.

The issue of safety in public spaces came to light in early September, when a woman walking at Suwanee Creek Park told police a man attacked her. She escaped unharmed.

The report was the first of its kind in the popular park's 15-year history, city officials said.

Suwanee police spokesman Capt. Clyde Byers said Tuesday no arrests have been made in the case.