Dakota County beat: Program targets crime, crashes

  • Article by: PAT PHEIFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 24, 2014 - 9:08 PM

Putting squads and officers in areas where most of a city’s crime and traffic crashes happen seems like pretty common-sense policing, right?

Thanks to a $50,000 grant, 10 of the 12 law enforcement agencies in Dakota County are sending extra patrols to the areas where crime and traffic crashes intersect.

It’s a six-month program, funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, called Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (D-DACTS).

“There is a connection between car crashes and crime,” said Dakota County Chief Deputy Tim Leslie. “The theory is that vehicles are used in committing crimes a lot. It’s really not that far of a stretch to think that as someone’s trying to get away, they might crash.”

The program simply helps law enforcers “try to be a little more strategic about where we place our resources,” Leslie said. “This has been shown to work.”

Burnsville and Lakeville elected not to take part. The other agencies started this month, using crime and crash data collected from April 2013 to target which areas need increased enforcement. The target areas will change each month through Aug. 31.

In Eagan, the shopping and restaurant area around Town Centre is the designated area this month. Analysts for the county narrowed it down even further, finding that Tuesday at 3 p.m. was the busiest time for police there.

The extra enforcement won’t require pulling officers from regular patrol duties or hiring extra personnel. Instead, the grant money will pay officers who are normally off to add extra shifts.

It’s partly about extra visibility and partly about responding more quickly to incidents in the designated area.

While Dakota County isn’t as big or as urban as cities like Los Angeles, Detroit or Cincinnati, where D-DACTS started, Sgt. Dan Tocko, who is in charge of the program for Eagan police, said he thinks it will work here too.

“It’s a cool concept based on everything I’ve read, but it’s not like we’re ridden with crime,” Tocko said.

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