In a new train-the-trainer program that began this summer, employees with the Center for Transportation Safety will begin training police officers on how to teach others about a crime-fighting tool that can dramatically improve crime and crash rates. The Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS) train-the-trainer program begins in the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT’s) Pharr District in August.
“Two years ago, we began conducting workshops for police departments and other law enforcement agencies showing them how to implement DDACTS,” Associate Research Scientist Troy Walden says. “This year, as part of the three-year TxDOT project funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, we created a train-the-trainer program so that they can teach others how to use the DDACTS methodology.”
DDACTS uses crime and traffic statistics to pinpoint hot spots in a given community. It’s those hot spots where the law enforcement agency concentrates its police presence with increased high-visibility traffic enforcement.
“We started noticing a dramatic difference in our crime numbers soon after we began the DDACTS program in 2012,” Harlingen Police Department Deputy Chief Mike Kester says. “There was a 20 percent reduction in major crimes the first year, another 20 percent reduction the second year, and so far in 2014 crime is down another 15 percent.” Officials say that Harlingen now has its lowest crime rate since 1985.
DDACTS has been so successful in Harlingen that the department created a new crime analysis section, which is headed up by Sgt. Carlos Cantu. “At first there was a lot of resistance to DDACTS. I was skeptical too, but the results speak for themselves,” he says.
With 2,500 law enforcement agencies in Texas and an increasing population, TxDOT says it’s important that more DDACT officers are trained and are able to teach others about the crime- and crash-fighting technique.
“We believe DDACTS can have a significant impact on safety for a community,” says Project Manager Freddie Summer of TxDOT. “However, for the best results, DDACTS has to be done right, and that’s what the train-the-trainer program is all about.”