SUWANEE -- Back for a second session this year, the Citizens Police Academy is set to begin on Tuesday at the Suwanee Police Department.
The program, in its ninth year in Suwanee, is open to Suwanee residents and those who work in the city, and aims to offer citizens a better understanding of life as a Suwanee police officer. Topics addressed include crime scene processing, traffic stops, building searches, crime prevention, and narcotics identification.
During the past eight years, more than 300 individuals have participated in eight-week program. Each class typically has about 20 people in it. Chief Mike Jones said early last week that 16 people were signed up this time.
"It's been a very successful program," Jones said. "We've had people who supported police wanting to come to it. Then we had people come in that were suspicious of police, and fortunately we were able to turn them around once they're able to observe what we're doing and why we did it."
Jones said his officers are open to questions, and they see it as a way to communicate. He said most people from each class will tell at least 30 other people about their experience.
"We try to do what they enjoy," Jones said. "The basic curriculum is ride alongs, vehicle pull-overs, going to the jail, those types of things. They like a lot of hands-on, that's what we hear."
One of the more entertaining classes is the vehicle pull-over class when the students in the class react to the motorist responding, or possibly being armed. Jones said in one previous class, a student fired on a motorist prematurely after a previous classmate was harmed during a pullover.
"They have a better understanding of why that officer might be cautious, or have the person put their hands on the steering wheel," Jones said. "It's making it safe for the officer and citizen. That impacts them when they see those types of things."