Facing budget cuts, police turn to traffic data to fight crime

By merging crime and traffic data -- then visualizing it on a map -- police departments can dramatically reduce traffic collisions and crime without spending a fortune.

By merging crime and traffic data -- then visualizing it on a map -- police departments can dramatically reduce traffic collisions and crime without spending a fortune.

Heather Kerrigan writes in Governing that the Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety, or DDACTS, initiative helps law enforcement officials target problem areas -- dubbed "hot spots" -- in a more efficient use of limited resources.

The program, first piloted in 2008, is a partnership between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Bureau of Justice Assistance and National Institute of Justice. It has been piloted in Baltimore, Nashville, Rochester and others.

Kerrigan describes the advantages of the mashup:

After mapping, they quickly noticed an overlap: Where crime is high, traffic incidents are often high as well. "You don’t hear of walk-by shootings," says Michael Alexander, commander of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. "Most of the time the criminal element is either riding or driving in the car."

To address the overlap, the pilot agencies targeted specific areas, and stepped up their police presence and traffic enforcement in these places. The result? Decreases in robberies, vandalism, theft and many other crime categories, and increases in vehicle stops, warnings, traffic citations and DUI/DWI arrests.

She writes that an increasing number of police and sheriffs' departments are taking interest in the program, fueled by increasing crime and reduced budgets. Still, without funding or data analytics capabilities, some departments are hesitant to give it a shot.

Data-Driven Policing [Governing]

Illustration: National Institute of Justice

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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