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December 2011 

Vehicle thefts at the border plummet

OTAY MESA - Alarmed at its ranking as the city's hot spot for auto thefts, officers at the San Diego Police Department's southern division developed a strategy to crackdown on the thieves, targeting every facet of the crime.


Five years later, the multipronged approach seems to have worked, with a 65 percent decrease in auto thefts in San Diego's border neighborhoods - from 2,233 thefts in fiscal 2007 to 771 thefts in fiscal 2011, city officials announced Wednesday.


 "No one wants to live in a city where every time you park your car, you wonder if it will be there when you get back," Mayor Jerry Sanders said at a news conference.


Part of the decline can be attributed to the general drop in crime nationwide over the past few years, Sanders said. Statistics show that auto theft has continued to decline citywide, although the neighborhoods in the southern division, including Otay Mesa and San Ysidro, have made some of the greatest strides.


It was in May 2008 - after auto thefts in the division that fiscal year had reached about 2,500 - when the Police Department formed a special unit to focus on battling the crime. Made up of a detective and a sergeant, the duo researched the cause of auto thefts and the types of cars being stolen.


They learned that the No. 1 reason for stealing cars was for the parts, said southern division Capt. Miguel Rosario. They found thieves were also using the swiped vehicles in cross-border smuggling operations, were selling them locally and abroad, and using them as free transportation while committing other crimes.


Insurance fraud also accounted for a high number of the thefts, a problem largely solved when officers started taking all stolen vehicle reports in person, rather than over the phone.


The two-person unit then identified the known car thieves in the area, became familiar with their tactics and monitored them during regular probation and parole searches.


"They want to point the finger away from them, so they gave us crucial information as to mode of operations and other suspects involved," Rosario said. "As you can imagine, that helped us tremendously."


The department also used "bait cars" to lure in unsuspecting thieves, partnered with federal officers to scan for stolen vehicles at the border and inspected local junk yards with state officers to crackdown on the sale of stolen parts or vehicles.


Some of the officers' tactics have been put into use in other parts of city, including the bait cars. In-person auto theft reports have also expanded to the central division, which includes downtown and Logan Heights, said Assistant Police Chief Boyd Long.


The decrease in auto thefts countywide has lowered the region's ranking from third in the nation to 15th, according to the National Crime Insurance Bureau. About 13,700 vehicles were stolen in San Diego County last year.

2012 NHTSA/NCDC DWI Court Training


The deadline to apply for the 2012 NHTSA/NCDC DWI Court Training has been extended.  We still have some openings available for teams to attend the training programs.  The deadline to submit an application is now Friday, December 30, 2011, to the State Highway Safety Office, and January 13, 2012, to the NHTSA, if the team is able to obtain funding from another source. 


For more information, go to the DWI Court website at:  If you know of a court that would be interested in getting the training to be a DWI Court, please forward this to them. 

Police in Burlington County using statistics to fight crime and improve traffic safety

By David Levinsky Staff writer


MOUNT LAUREL - Call it the "moneyball" of policing.


Instead of assigning police officers to conduct random patrols and respond to calls wherever they occur, police in Burlington City, Burlington Township, Evesham and Mount Laurel are taking a new statistics-driven approach toward deciding where and when to assign officers.


Under the Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety, the four departments will identify specific "hot spots" in their towns where the majority of traffic accidents and crime occur and then assign officers to conduct highly visible patrols in those areas.


It may sound overly simple, but police officials in the four towns say there is plenty of study involved in identifying the patrol areas. The approach also makes the best use of the departments' dwindling resources and manpower by proactively preventing crimes and accidents rather than just responding to them.


"The goal is to reduce crime and crashes in those target areas," Mount Laurel Chief Dennis Cribben said Monday during a news conference announcing the launch of the initiative.


"We've been wearing out our officers by sending them to call after call after call with little time to do proactive crime prevention," Cribben said. "We needed to find a new method, and this model makes sense. It puts highly visible traffic enforcement where we know a high volume of crime and traffic accidents occur."


Mount Laurel launched its data-driven program Friday with the following three target areas: Route 73 and Fellowship Road, Route 38 and Marter Avenue and Route 38 and Hartford, Larchmont and Ark roads.


Cribben said high-volume shopping areas such as the East Gate Square shopping center and Centerton Square likely would be added during the holidays. He said a fourth area was being eyed for possible implementation next year.


Burlington City, Burlington Township and Evesham hope to launch their programs early next year.


"We're in the beginning stage," said Burlington Township Lt. Bruce Painter, who represented the township force at the news conference. "We've identified the likely hot spots, but we're still mapping them out and figuring out patrols."


Burlington City Chief Anthony Wallace and Evesham Chief Michael Barth reported similar progress in establishing their programs.


Painter said the township's likely target area would be the Route 541 corridor near the Burlington Center Mall and other shopping areas along that stretch of roadway.


Evesham's designated areas likely would include stretches of Routes 73 and 70, Barth said.

Cribben stressed that the enforcement would not be used to generate additional revenue, but was actually intended to deter crime and reduce the number of accidents.


The initiative also could result in more cooperation among neighboring police departments. Painter and Wallace said their towns would look to coordinate some patrols to make sure their target areas are covered, and Mount Laurel has reached out to the New Jersey State Police for some assistance as well.


"They'll never be primary or responsible for taking calls, but they will augment us at certain time periods," Cribben said.


Shannon Purdy, regional program manager for the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, said some towns have applied aspects of the data-driven approach, but that the four Burlington County towns are the first to undergo training for the program and embrace the total concept.

"We know Burlington County will be much better off for it," Purdy said.


Barth said the comparison to baseball's "moneyball" strategy of using statistics to evaluate players and batting lineups was appropriate.


"I don't know if we have all the (statistical) metrics that (baseball teams) have, but the idea of looking at ways to best invest your resources is the same," he said.

Traffic crashes cost U.S. motorists almost $300 billion per year

Reporter: AAA Press Release

Tampa, FL


The annual societal cost of traffic crashes is $299.5 billion, more than three times the $97.7 billion cost of congestion, according to a report released today by AAA. AAA's Crashes vs. Congestion - What's the Cost to Society? report highlights the overwhelming and far-reaching economic impacts traffic safety crashes have on our nation and encourages policymakers, at all levels of government, to ensure safety is a top priority. Click here (pages 33-47) to view local metro area costs associated with crashes and congestion.


The overall cost of crashes ($299.5 billion) equates to an annual per person cost of $1,522, compared to $590 per person annually for congestion ($97.7 billion overall), according to the study conducted for AAA by Cambridge Systematics. The cost of crashes are based on the Federal Highway Administration's comprehensive costs for traffic fatalities and injuries that assign a dollar value to a variety of components, including medical and emergency services, lost earnings and household production, property damage, and lost quality of life, among other things.

"Motorists often think of the burdens associated with congestion during daily commutes, but the $300 billion annual cost of crashes on our society is usually not top of mind, despite the fact that costs are more than three times the amount of congestion. This report underscores the importance of a long-term, multi-year federal transportation bill that will provide the necessary and sustained investments that can lead to better and safer roads for all Americans," said Michele Harris, director, AAA Traffic Safety Culture, The Auto Club Group.


The report calculates the costs of crashes for the same metropolitan areas covered by the annual Urban Mobility Report conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute. The results showed crash costs exceeded congestion in every metropolitan area studied, from very large to small. For very large urban areas (populations of more than 3 million), crash costs are nearly double those of congestion. Those costs rise to nearly six times congestion costs in small urban areas (populations less than 500,000) where motorists face less congested conditions.


"It's unacceptable that close to 33,000 people-635 per week-die on U.S. roadways each year," said Harris. "Although traffic fatalities have declined in recent years, our work is far from over. Active and focused leadership is needed for continued progress, in addition to improved communication and a further investment in data collection and evaluation to make sure we address the nation's most serious safety challenges."


The Auto Club Group, the second largest affiliation of AAA clubs, offers travel, insurance and financial services to more than 8.4 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories. This includes Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois, Minnesota and Tennessee; and a portion of Indiana. The Auto Club Group belongs to the national AAA federation with nearly 53 million members in the United States and Canada, whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.
First Month of Driving Riskiest for Teens

by Julie Curtis


Wasn't it only yesterday you were teaching him to ride a bike without training wheels? Today your teen is taking his first solo drive after having received his license. He is thrilled and you are a nervous wreck. No wonder.


While The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration  says the number of traffic fatalities in 2010 fell to the lowest level ever reported, automobile crashes are still the leading cause of death among teen drivers.


A new study from the AAA Traffic Safety Foundation reveals that teens are 50 percent more likely to crash during their first month of unsupervised driving than after having driven for one year. Among the common mistakes of young drivers: failure to reduce speed, inattention and failure to yield.


"The overall issue with new teen drivers is just plain inexperience," says Fran Mayko of AAA New England. "They haven't had all the situations, near misses and near hits that more experienced drivers have. As a result they don't know how to get themselves out of a bad situation unless they practice enough to be able to expect the unexpected."


Mayko says she tells teens, "You may have passed the test but you only have a bona fide license to drive on city roadways. You need to practice, practice, practice, and you need to do it properly - without distractions, without texting, without talking on the phone."


The AAA Foundation adds that just because a teen has his or her license it doesn't mean they're ready for driving solo. Mayko says it is important for parents to continue driving with teens so that basic skills can be mastered. And practice should not limited to sunny Sunday mornings: It should, Mayko says, encompass different types of street and weather conditions, such as heavy traffic, rural roads and snow and rain.


AAA has some other tips to ensure your teen drives safely:

Just say, "No" to passengers: It's a fact that teen crash risk multiplies when other teens are in the vehicle. Set limits for your teen's driving behavior, and enforce them rigorously.


Set rules about driving. Just because they have their license it doesn't mean your rules are null and void. In fact, it isn't enough to set driving rules for teens in keeping with state laws: parents should set their own guidelines to encompass distracted driving avoidance, driving after dark, during inclement weather, in congested urban areas, or any other areas where they feel a teen driver lacks experience to handle driving situations safely.


Being a safe driver doesn't end when a teen buckles his or her seatbelt and adjusts the rearview mirror. It starts with experience, but the learning does not end. 

Super Bowl XLVI Spanish Language Materials Available

A few weeks ago, we posted the Super Bowl XLVI materials for your use. Since then, we have created Spanish-language materials to offer you additional assets so you can reach out to your Spanish-speaking community. No matter what language we communicate in, the message is the same; Fans Don't Let Fans Drive Drunk or Los Aficionados no Dejan que los Aficionados Manejen Borrachos.


As we enter the last weeks of the NFL's regular season, let's work together to remind everyone to plan ahead and designate a sober driver to have a fun, but safe Super Bowl experience.


All materials can be found at