TPD uses data-driven approach to reduce crashes, crime

System allows effective use of manpower
Sep. 17, 2013 @ 02:45 PM

Thomasville Police Department is using a new data-driven approach to help reduce traffic crashes and crime across the Chair City.

Information collected through the Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS) model identified National Highway and Randolph Street as the two worst area for traffic crashes inside the city limits. The information allows TPD not only to identify problem areas within the city but to develop strategies to address them.

"It allows for an effective use of resources," said Chief Jeff Insley. "When you see there is a high crash area and you overlay it and see there also is an issue with crime, you can focus not only on patrol but also on traffic safety in there.  Again, there's more eyes and more opportunity to address the issue at hand."

What statistics showed, according to Lt. David Tilley,  traffic safety division commander, is that a higher police presence reduces crash and crime rates in a particular area. 

"It has happened in the past," said Tilley. "It was a two-fold approach. You know we're down there and you slow down. We saw a drop in the larceny rate at Walmart by increasing our presence in the area. It does make a difference."

Breaking the data down allows police to look at information from every possible angle and create a picture as to what causes crashes and where. By knowing a large number of crashes occur on Randolph Street, the traffic division can focus on the surrounding area and assist patrols where there tends to be a lot of problems. The intersections at Randolph Street and Julian Avenue and Cloniger Drive and Liberty Drive are places experiencing a high volume of wrecks. 

"We enforce the law by getting people's attention," Tilley said. "Things evolve. People change and you have to change with them. We look at the time of day or days of the week when crashes occur. We want to know when and where crashes are happening on our roadways."

TPD is using data collected over a three-year period. The DDACTS model also identifies causation factors that police can address through means other than enforcement. There are times when a speed limit reduction or signage can make a significant impact on high crash areas.   

"The nice thing about DDCATS is it's not always an enforcement issue," said Insley. "It's just a good all-around concept to use that once you see a problem, you verify it and it gives you different avenues to correct it. Just writing someone a ticket or doing speed enforcement doesn't necessarily always fix the issue."

Having this information at its disposal enables police to maximize its resources and get the most out of the department.

"We want to put people where we can be most effective," Tilley said. "We want to go where we're needed the most. This allows us to utilize our manpower. The biggest effect this can have is allowing us to work more efficiently."

The DDACTS model is supported by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the National Institute of Justice.

 

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or duke@tvilletimes.com.