Reitan: Driver feedback boards are useful tools for police
Over the past five years, the West Fargo Police Department has purchased driver feedback boards to address speeding vehicles near elementary schools in West Fargo.
A driver feedback board looks much like a standard traffic sign, but the sign is also equipped with a traffic radar unit. The radar unit records and displays a vehicle’s speed on a digital display board.
The police department is able to review the recorded information and decide when it is the best time to deploy officers to address speeding violations.
While the driver feedback boards are highly visible and permanently mounted, the police department recently purchased a speed tracking unit that is much more covert.
The covert unit is able to record traffic speeds and conduct traffic counts. Officers are able to analyze the collected data to determine the direction the vehicle was traveling, its speed and the exact time that the vehicle passed. Reviewing the data can point officers to a habitual violator or the time of day most violations occur. The unit is highly portable and will be installed in areas where speed complaints are received.
A much older portable radar unit is our Speed Monitoring and Analysis Radar Trailer, SMART.
The SMART trailer features an onboard radar unit and digital display board. The trailer operates much the same as the driver feedback board. The trailer is moved into neighborhoods where complaints of speeding vehicles have been made. The trailer is meant to act as a visual reminder to slow down.
The use of data analysis to focus enforcement on problem areas is becoming a larger influence in law enforcement across the nation. Targeted enforcement places limited resources in the location where the highest probability of a violation will occur. Police departments review data relating to traffic but also look at data in connection to personal and property crimes. As patterns emerge through the study of data, the department creates a strategy on how to best address the problem.
Officers may also be able to connect a series of crimes to others in the area or connect a suspect to a particular crime.
While many of the traditional activities of the average police officer will remain unchanged, computers and data analysis will continue to evolve the practice of law enforcement.