WOODBRIDGE — A father of three sons requested that a township police officer pulled over his 16-year-old.

He said the request was a crucial part of the teen's first lessons behind the wheel.

Scott Harrell shared a Facebook post on Aug. 31 describing what he calls a "teachable moment" that he said helped calm his son's nerves while also helping create a new community relationship.

The township resident once served as a police officer but retired after five years with Roselle.

In his post, Harrell said, "For me as a father of three young black men one of my roles is to empower my children with knowledge and experience so they are equipped when I am not with them."

Harrell said his oldest son, Jason, recently celebrated the birthday that put him in NJ learner's permit territory.

Harrell said as his own father did with him when he was a kid, he drove his son to a deserted parking lot for an introduction to driving.

Harrell said the teen excitedly drove some slow laps with his father as front passenger, when a Woodbridge police SUV pulled into the lot and parked in a far corner.

Harrell said the arrival made his son visibly nervous, and when he asked the teen why, he said his son didn't want to get in trouble for being unlicensed, which Harrell said gave him the idea to approach the officer and ask for some help.

He had his son park and said he got out and walked over to the SUV occupied by Officer Patel of the township police force, where Harrell said he introduced himself and explained why he wanted the officer to pull his son over.

A few moments later, Harrell said he got back in his own vehicle and told his son to drive another lap.

He said halfway, his teen saw the "red and and blues behind him and he froze up" and partly ran the car up on a curb in the lot, in initial panic.

Harrell said he told his son, "find a safe place for yourself and for the officer to pull over, then you put the car in park and leave your hands here and wait for him to approach your window and have your paperwork and everything ready."

The officer asked the younger Harrell for his license and registration and then ran through a typical traffic stop while Harrell helped coach his son through the moment.

Harrell said as the officer answered a few questions and chatted with the teen, "My son went from nervous to very happy about the occurrence and I very much appreciated that for both of their sakes."

Too many interactions between young people and police are "portrayed in so many different ways," Harrell said, adding he wanted to "shine a light on a good experience as opposed to one that is not."

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