Castle Rock PD Reduces Crash Rates

July 27, 2020 by Devin Culham

Castle Rock PD Reduces Crash Rates

For a rapidly growing town like Castle Rock, Colorado, traffic safety has become a growing concern. Castle Rock, situated between Colorado’s two largest cities, Denver and Colorado Springs, has recently experienced a population boom, causing concern for the safety of drivers and the community.

To lessen any potential problems within the city, officials with the Castle Rock Police Department opted to focus on traffic education rather than traffic enforcement. And the outcome, led by data-informed policies, helped the city of 72,000 residents change its driver behavior. In 2019, for the first time, the Town of Castle Rock saw a reduction in public roadway crashes by a figure of 8%.

Using Data and Technology to Pivot Enforcement Strategies

In 2012, Police Chief Jack Cauley joined the Castle Rock Police Department from his post in Overland Park, Kansas, and brought with him a vision of technology. At the time, the city with slightly more than 50 officers had limited patrol areas, creating a culture of traffic-enforced driving.

“We wrote a lot of tickets, but we went and found the fishing holes that produce a lot of speeders,” reflects commander Todd Brown of the Castle Rock Police Department. “Which doesn’t really combat traffic safety, it just writes a lot of tickets.”

Located north of Colorado Springs, Castle Rock police recognized that drivers would adjust to the city’s freeway limits of 65 mph, only to return up to 75 mph once beyond the Castle Rock city limits.

“We were seen as a speed trap,” said Brown. “It doesn’t change their traffic behaviors; it just makes them worry about whether they were getting a ticket.”

Castle Rock PD began to change its course by analyzing data from its public safety software system. Over time, the data from recorded crashes and citations helped the department pinpoint high crash locations, enabling the department to deploy traffic enforcement officers to where they were needed most.

“We’re not just saying, ‘Hey, you were doing 11 mile per hour over here,” explained Brown. “‘You’re actually doing the speeding in an area that is a high accident location.’”

The distinction, Brown said, is an important one.

“We’re focusing on traffic education, so there’s a reason behind doing our enforcement.”

More Data, Fewer Crashes

With officers patrolling high crash areas, Castle Rock PD began to issue warning citations instead of tickets. In doing so, the department collected digital records of traffic violations in place of verbal warnings.

In the first year of the program, officers collected 1,400 citations, an increase from the 200 written warnings received in 2015. The data-forward approach to driver education helped the department reduce crashes in Castle Rock for the first time in its history, despite seeing an increase in the number of drivers on the road.

“The use of an electronic citation system really opened our eyes to data,” says Brown. “And, I think data is really helping us deploy our officers where they need to be.”

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