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Minnesota cops step in as licensed supervisors to help teach teens how to drive: 'We saw there was a gap'

Rochester police say by stepping into that role of helping students, not only do they help teens get a license, but they teach the proper behavior on the roads.
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Posted at 3:46 PM, Jan 10, 2023

ROCHESTER, MN — Cops in Minnesota are helping teach teens how to drive. A new pilot program in Rochester is pairing police officers with teen drivers who are trying to get their driver’s licenses.

Rochester police officers are volunteering to help teens get their behind-the-wheel hours in that are required.

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Captain Jeff Stilwell, Rochester Police Department in Minnesota.

"We were finding a lot of 16-year-olds particularly, would have a job, maybe have access to a car so they would just drive anyway,” said Captain Jeff Stilwell with the Rochester Police Department.

Captain Stilwell says police were finding that some teens in their community would only complete the classroom portion of Driver's Education and they were pulling over students who did not have a license.

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Rochester, Minnesota police squad

"We saw there was a gap in the service in that a lot of students didn't have the resources to get the driving hours in or they didn't have a family car that wasn't good enough service to do that. They didn't have a licensed parent as a driver,” said Stilwell.

Minnesota law requires 50 hours of behind-the-wheel experience with a licensed adult driver in order to get a license. Wisconsin has the same law for anyone under the age of 18.

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Reporter Rebecca Klopf (left) speaks with Jodie Donabar, recreation supervisor at Milwaukee Recreation which runs MPS Drive, the Milwaukee Public School driving program

"They have to do 50 hours of in-car training with a parent or guardian or anyone over the age of 21 with a current license,” said Jodie Donabar, recreation supervisor at Milwaukee Recreation which runs MPS Drive, the Milwaukee Public School driving program.

Rochester police say by stepping into that role of helping students, not only do they help teens get a license, but they teach the proper behavior on the roads.

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Driving school vehicle driving through the parking lot of the Department of Motor Vehicles in Milwaukee.

“In a car with them, driving around the city talking about safe driving, talking about ways to avoid getting pulled over for driving behavior, that was a really good fit for us,” said Stilwell.

Milwaukee Recreation says they have been in contact with Rochester as it worked to create this program. It is a pilot program with about 20 police officers working with students with cars that were donated by their county.

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