Champlin sees nearly 54 percent drop in injury crashes during 4-year stretch

 

“People know not to speed in Champlin,” said Champlin Officer Jeff Brown.

The city’s reputation is based on an initiative following a 2008

Champlin Officer Jeff Brown operates the computer in the department’s traffic enforcement vehicle. (Sun staff photo by Mindy Mateuszczyk.)

Champlin Officer Jeff Brown operates the computer in the department’s traffic enforcement vehicle. (Sun staff photo by Mindy Mateuszczyk.)

evaluation to amp up traffic enforcement. The results over the past four years reveal a nearly 54 percent drop in injury crashes and a 17.6 percent drop in non-injury crashes. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety monetizes the savings in death, injury and property damage at more than $2.1 million from the 2009 figures to the 2012 figures.

The proactive traffic enforcement efforts began under former Champlin Police Chief Dave Schwarze. In 2008, Champlin evaluated and devoted additional resources to traffic enforcement with the goal of improving traffic safety. In 2011, Champlin City Council affirmed its support of these measures.

Under current Police Chief Dave Kolb, the department has continued the initiative.

“We have had good discussions within the department about the benefits of traffic enforcement and traffic safety,” said Kolb. “We talked at length about why we’re doing this. We are not doing it for revenue but to make the roads safe.”

Kolb brought up whether people realize the police department is focusing extra resources on traffic enforcement and traffic safety.

“The 2012 survey conducted by Decision Resources, Ltd., confirms traffic enforcement is affecting public perception of our police department,” said Kolb.

While 84 percent of the respondents said police personnel are professional and courteous, 13 percent used the word “strict” to describe the department. By contrast, 64 percent described the department as “good” or “excellent” while another 9 percent used the words “kind, nice or helpful.”

While 22 percent said the police conduct too much traffic enforcement, 21 percent identified traffic safety as the greatest public safety problem facing Champlin today. It ranks second only to juvenile crime, which 28 percent of survey respondents cited as the city’s greatest public safety issue. Additionally, 76 percent support or strongly support the department enforcing traffic laws in a proactive manner to help reduce accidents and personal injuries.

“We are clearly coming across professional and courteous but we are strict so there is no question the public has  noticed our efforts,” said Kolb.

In 2007 4,644 citations were issued. Since 2009, the police department has consistently issued between 5,000 and 5,800 citations annually.

“It’s not necessarily the number of citations we issue but that we issue enough to gain public perception that we’re doing enforcement,” said Kolb.

Kolb says the results of the traffic safety data illustrate there is department-wide support of the efforts, particularly demonstrated by the officers’ diligence in DWI checks and arrests. In 2012, the Champlin Police Department issued 133 DWI citations.

“They require the officer to really be out there looking, stopping and doing additional work. They don’t get paid extra for that,” said Kolb. “What that indicates is staff is really buying into the traffic safety concept.”

Kolb said it’s difficult to compare the number of crashes in Champlin to other cities because of each community’s unique road systems; however, one crash is one crash too many.

“Traffic safety is important in any community, certainly in Champlin,” he said. “As the police department looks at it, if you are going to be injured or killed in Champlin, for most people, statistically, the most likely way that would happen would be in a traffic accident.”

In addition to police department personnel efforts, Kolb credits the road engineers for good infrastructure; public works for keeping the roads clear; the council for their support and the former police chief. He also credits the drivers of the community for improved driving conduct.

“We believe traffic enforcement, if diligent and consistent, improves driving conduct,” said Kolb. “Improved driving conduct brings down crashes.”

 

Contact Mindy Mateuszczyk at mindy.m@ecm-inc.com

 
 
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