Staff Photo: Jason Braverman City of Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette, front center, shakes hands with Police Chief Mike Jones after cutting the ribbon for the police training facility substation off Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road on Monday afternoon.
SUWANEE -- An idea that began about 14 years ago came to fruition officially on Monday as officials in Suwanee unveiled a state-of-the-art police substation and training facility.
Former mayor Richard Trice first brought the thought of a precinct or other police facility near Interstate 85 to Chief Mike Jones, who welcomed it openly. Now the one-story facility, which is 7,100 square feet and cost about $1.99 million, is a reality that officers will begin working in next week.
"As we have matured as an agency and grown, becoming nationally accredited and certified, training becomes very, very important," Jones said. "We have to train in all areas. One area we focused on was the firing range and virtual room. It's hard to train on them if you don't have the facilities to do it."
Those training elements of the facility are a four-lane indoor firing range, training rooms with mats for defensive drills and classrooms with state-of-the-art technology like a SMART Board. Jones said Gwinnett County Police is the only other agency in the county that has an indoor firing range.
Jones said it's impossible to measure the impact of the building's presence.
"It's like we put a police car here 24-7," Jones said.
City officials hope the new facility adds a presence to deter criminal activity in the Gateway area, and spur economic growth as several businesses within sight of the building are vacant or closed.
"As years progressed other things were on the list, and finally we got to a position to sort of make things happen," Mayor Jimmy Burnette said. "It's special to create things that make this community a better place to live."
Groundbreaking and construction for the facility, which has an address of 2966 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road, began in January. The building was designed by Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh and Associates, and built by Hogan Construction.
City manager Marty Allen said the modern design of the building near the road was an important part of the message city officials are trying to send, which is to eliminate crime, and make the area more pedestrian friendly.
"This is one piece of a multi-part effort to sustain long-term viability of the area and the city overall," Allen said.
Suwanee officers also previously traveled for training in places like Shadowbrook Baptist Church, Braselton, Jackson County and the outdoor firing range at the Lawrenceville Police Department. The new facility provides savings on overtime and expenses, and the opportunity to host other agencies for local training and certification, Jones said.