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South NJ Police Launch Program To Combat Crime, Crashes [AUDIO]

Stacy Proebstle, Townsquare Media

In an effort to reduce crime and promote traffic safety, the Mount Laurel Police Department along with Evesham, Burlington Township, and Burlington City are launching a new policing strategy that targets crime and traffic crashes.

Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS) uses both crime and traffic safety data to identify and map out problem areas or locations where crime and crashes are found to overlap. Within these “hot spots” communities can provide additional key information about towns. Law enforcement then uses highly visible traffic enforcement, such as increased patrols, DUI checkpoints, or other strategies to simulatenously address crime and crash problems.

Mt. Laurel Police Chief Dennis Cribben said the goal is to make neighborhoods safer, “There were over 3,000 injury-related crashes last year, and if we can make a connection to where these crashes are happening and then where criminal activity is taking place, its a win-win.”

“What we know is that traffic enforcement, highly visible like this is saves lives, it gets dangerous drivers off the road, and it’s also a great tool for interrupting criminal activity” said Shannon Purdy, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Cribben says no new patrols or staffing would be required, but rather, patrols already assigned to specific areas would be re-routed to focus on the “hot spots”, many of which would be shopping centers and malls during the upcoming holidays. The program would be payed for with the help of state and federal grants and would be re-evaluated after six months.

“Given the downsizing of our department, it is critical that we adopt a more efficient model of policing that has a proven track record” said Chief Cribben.

The DDACTS strategy has been adopted with great results in a variety of different communities throughout the country such as Baltimore, Maryland and Shawnee, Kansas.

Ed O’Connor, Regional Supervisor with the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety says its no secret that traffic crashes and crime are linked, “some of the highest profile arrests in our nation’s history were done at the start of a traffic stop.”

O’Connor says the program has also be utilized in Toms River, and if successful, could be a model for the rest of the state.

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