Paradise Valley police increase visibility, enforcement to deter crime

Paradise Valley Police Department Lt. Freeman Carney explaining the DDACTS zone. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

In an effort to continue fighting local crime and maintain an exemplary quality of life within the municipality, the Paradise Valley Police Department has implemented a new longterm, data-driven program.

Titled Data Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety — also known as DDACTS — the program essentially creates a more visible police presence in what has been identified as the town’s “hot spot.”

The new program will result in this area being highly patrolled, and traffic enforcement will be stricter in an effort to crack down on crime, Paradise Valley Police Chief Peter Wingert contends.

Through the gathering and analysis of four years of data, the police department was able to identify hundreds of theft or traffic accidents in this specific 2.5-square-mile zone, around Tatum Boulevard and Lincoln Drive.

Now, the police department is deploying its officers to generally be more present, and use traffic enforcement to play a dual role in fighting crime.

In February, Chief Wingert released his annual report, with his No. 1 goal identified as reducing crime and the fear of crime.

“The theory behind DDACTS is that people use vehicles to get to their crime scenes, so if we’re working traffic really highly visible, we might deter some of that criminal activity away from that area,” Chief Wingert said in a June 15 interview.

Chief Wingert says ultimately, he wants the town to be thought of as a place with strict traffic enforcement.

“They think ‘oh lets see, they have license plate recognition there, they’re doing high traffic enforcement — I get pulled over every time I go in there.’ That’s a good thing, that deters criminal activity,” he explained.

“That’s the thought behind it. The more time we can turn on the lights in the area the better off we’re going to be.”

The DDACTS zone identified by Paradise Valley Police Department. (submitted graphic)

Hyper Focus

Lieutenant Freeman Carney and Crime Analysist, Andrea Ford, both underwent training on the program about one year ago, before spending several weeks gathering years of data.

With the program now implemented, each officer is required to spend at least one hour in the DDACTS zone per week.

Chief Wingert says while photo enforcement cameras are still set for 10 MPH over the speed limit, the officers will be stopping people for lower than that.

“If you’re going five to 10 over, you might see an officer at the side of your window,” Chief Wingert said. “If you have an equipment violation, I would expect you to get an officer pulling you over.”

Officers will be providing drivers who are pulled-over a small flyer explaining the DDACTS program, Lt. Carney said.

The specific zone is located in the southwest portion of Paradise Valley. The 2.5 square miles is along Lincoln Drive from 40th Street to 56th Street; and Tatum Boulevard from north Desert Fairways Drive to east McDonald Drive.

The program is believed to change poor driving behavior, while simultaneously creating an environment that is uncomfortable for criminals.

“If an officer’s sitting on the side of the road at night, waiting for that 15 mile-an-hour, 20 mile-an-hour to fly by we’re not turning the lights on and then the bad guys aren’t really seeing us sitting on the side of the road, but with the lights on there’s more deterrents,” Lt. Carney said June 15.

Additionally, the collision rate on Lincoln Drive has steadily increased over the past five years, Chief Wingert says.

“Just trying to be out there a little more, pro-actively and seeing people, making contact with people,” he said.

Crime Analyst, Andrea Ford (photo by Melissa Fittro)

Ms. Ford says four specific crimes have been identified to be looked at under this program: residential burglaries, vehicle burglaries, thefts and theft of vehicles.

Through data, the police department has determined hundreds of incidents — crime and vehicular — pinpointed onto a map showing the town’s hot spot.

“Right now we’re focused on overall reducing crime, where this time we decided we’re going to focus on four specific property crimes,” Ms. Ford explained. “We’re already reducing crime as it is, but let’s see if we can reduce it in specific property crimes and stuff that effects quality of life.”

According to Chief Wingert’s report, burglary occurrences did go down in 2016, but with an influx in construction, resorts and visitors the department wants to ensure it maintains a low crime-rate.

Lt. Carney says no new officers will need to be hired, but volunteers will be spending time out in the field as well.

“We’ve already upped our visibility townwide over the year and a half or so, and crime is down,” Lt. Carney said. “So now the thought is, well now let’s really focus and continue doing what we’re doing townwide, but in addition to that hyper-focus in that area and see if we can even drive it down more.”

The program is to run through June 6, 2018, before being reassessed.

News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be reached by e-mail at mfittro@newszap.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MelissaFittro

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