One of DOT's greatest assets has been the participation of municipal, county, and state police departments in our traffic safety enforcement efforts. Whether it's "Click It or Ticket," distracted driving, or "Over the Limit, Under Arrest," America's police officers have given the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) their fullest support.
And, just a few miles up the road from DC, the Baltimore County Police Department has been one of NHTSA's strongest partners. Two years ago, Chief Jim Johnson volunteered the BCPD to implement a brand new, technological initiative, DDACTS (Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety).
Chief Johnson's department was one of only eight departments nationwide participating in this approach. DDACTS was developed by NHTSA and turned into a pilot program in partnership with the Department of Justice. By mapping crashes together with other incidents, police using DDACTS can identify problem areas as they are beginning to develop. They can then position officers in a highly visible enforcement presence to deter speeding, distracted driving, and unsafe pedestrian behaviors.
Chief Johnson thinks this is common sense:
"Technology is now a vital part of fighting crime. We use it to fight identity theft; we use it to communicate to the public. Now, with DDACTS information, we can deploy our officers and resources in the most effective and efficient way. It really turns our data analysts into keyboard crime fighters."
And, by improving traffic safety through reduced crashes, injuries, and fatalities, a community can also realize reductions in crime. "One helps the other," Chief Johnson says, "because vehicles are often used in the commission of crimes."
Due to Chief Johnson's outstanding leadership, the Baltimore County police have been at the forefront in using this new tool effectively to reduce crime and increase traffic safety in 15 priority hot spots. For his innovation in developing and implementing the DDACTS operational model for Baltimore County, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland yesterday awarded Chief Johnson NHTSA's highest individual honor, the Public Service Award.
County Executive James T. Smith, Jr., was also on hand to
congratulate Chief Johnson. He thanked both the Chief and NHTSA, saying,
"DDACTS has made Baltimore County a safer place, plain and simple."
Administrator Strickland then moved into the field to observe firsthand how Chief Johnson's officers have reduced the number of injuries from car crashes and increased the number of impaired drivers removed from Baltimore County's roadways.
"We're using Baltimore County as a gold standard," said Administrator Strickland. "They've taken a concept that was theoretical and made it real. Now I have departments coming to me from around the country seeing Baltimore County's results and asking how they can participate in the program."
Chief Johnson responded, ""We are delighted to have that recognition; the men and women of Baltimore County work very hard to ensure public safety."
Much of what we do at DOT is also hard work, and the public servants here certainly don't shrink from that. But it helps to have the support of jurisdictions like Baltimore County and the excellent leadership of partners like Chief Jim Johnson.