SUWANEE -- Some residents see the city as a cruise control zone. Others appreciate the standard it has established.
The news of the return of radar to Suwanee's police force, beginning Thursday, brings mixed reactions from residents. The city expects to begin the use of radar next month after it's been without since the end of 2010 following a dispute with Gwinnett County over service delivery.
That issue was settled earlier this month, but individual cities had to re-apply for state-issued permits.
Capt. Clyde Byers of the Suwanee Police Department said the knee-jerk reaction to the topic of speeding citations or radar almost immediately shifts to it being a revenue generator. But the city and its police department see it as a preemptive measure to stop criminal acts.
"How do criminals get to the scene of the crime?," Byers said. "Having concentrated patrols, you avert crimes that criminals are en route to commit."
According to data from the Suwanee Police Department, there were 420 speeding citations issued in 2011, compared to 2,469 in 2010.
Byers added that visible patrols often cause criminals to drive out of the area, or not commit a crime at all.
Earlier this month, councilman Doug Ireland said routine traffic stops when officers check driver's licenses and insurance often lead to more serious infractions such as parole violations.
Zachary Miller of Lawrenceville works at the Mellow Mushroom restaurant at Suwanee's Town Center, and recalls motorists being pulled over in Town Center, or along Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.
"Since I know Suwanee is very strict, I'll definitely take it a little easier," Miller said.
Miller said he has noticed a drop in the number of cars being pulled over in the last year.
"If it honestly keeps things safer, it's worth it," Miller said. "Safety comes with a price."
Parker Skelton of Suwanee also works at Mellow Mushroom and said since he's been pulled over several times, he's changed his routine. Now, Skelton said he regularly uses cruise control on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.
"I've already changed how I drive in Suwanee," said Skelton, a Duluth native. "I'm scared of Suwanee. It's safer just to go home."
The owner of Planet Smoothie in Town Center, Karen Hendrix, has lived in Suwanee for about five years. She wasn't aware of the absence of radar since 2010, but generally obeys the speed limit.
"I've certainly passed police when I was going five or 10 (mph) over, and I haven't been pulled over," Hendrix said.
If she had been pulled over for minor violations, Hendrix said she might feel differently. But she said her last speeding ticket was in Duluth. Digital speed indicators, such as the one on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road just before Sharon Industrial Way, eliminate any excuse a motorist might have, she said.
"I think Suwanee has a really high standard for safety, for community, for everything," Hendrix said.