POSTED: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 9:30am
UPDATED: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 11:50am
THIBODAUX, LA (NBC33) — Law enforcement is all too often placed in the role of being reactionary. However, the Thibodaux Police Department has implemented a new proactive method that’s gaining positive results for the department as well as the community.
“We’re working smarter, not harder,” David Melancon, Thibodaux Police Department, explained. “We take a data-led approach, and through this approach we’re seeing great results.”
Two years ago, Chief Scott Silverii took over the Thibodaux Police Department. Utilizing the DDACTS (Data Driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Safety) is one of the many policy changes he has made.
“The traditional way of law enforcement is very reactive. You ride around and wait for a call. We operate off of an intelligence paradigm,” Chief Silverii explained. “We place officers in the right place at the right time. We’ve become very proactive in the way we approach law enforcement.”
Officers are given real-time data and statistics to determine where their efforts are most needed. Although the city has a low level of violent criminal offences, crimes of opportunity and those considered to cause social harm are the primary focus.
“Those are crimes that prevent a person from having comfort in our person or property,” Melancon explained. “We deal with a lot of property crimes, domestic cases, fighting, thefts, and so on.”
Among those crimes considered to cause social harm are DWI offenses.
“We consider that to be one of the most serious in-progress crimes,” Melancon said. “When you have people who are behind the wheel driving drunk, they have the potential of killing an entire family - all because that person drove under the influence. If you really want to reduce social harm and want people to feel safe, DWI enforcement is the place to start.
The DDACTS system has dramatically improved the statistics in the area for alcohol related traffic offenses.
This year the Thibodaux Police Department has made over 200 DWI arrests, and there has not been a single alcohol-related crash in the city.
In 2010, the year before the new system was implemented, the department only made 22 arrests for the entire year. That same year there were 16 alcohol-related crashes with injury.
“This isn’t an accident," Chief Silverii said. "This isn’t a coincidence. This is very orchestrated.”
Along with a reduction of traffic crashes, the Thibodaux Police Department has seen a reduction in other offences such as property crimes and crimes against persons.
“It’s not about harassing the public, it’s about being proactive,” Chief Silverii explained. “Every time those blue lights come on, it has an awesome deterrent effect. Whether you’re stopping a drunk driver, or making a traffic stop, seeing those lights might deter a person from committing a criminal act in the area.”
Being active in the community extends beyond the physical, however. Chief Silverii is also pushing the use of social media to increase transparency with the public.
“I think the public is tired of just listening,” he said. “By reciprocating communications, it ingrains us into the community we serve.”
He is also working to develop a mobile app that members of the community can use to report crime.
“Traditionally, only 41 percent of crimes are reported,” Chief Silverii noted. “The old way of just calling 911 has gone to the wayside. I’m pushing to offer an app. The younger generation is more accustom to texting, and we want to remove any barrier that would prevent them from reporting crime.”
Chief Silverii has more plans that will help move Thibodaux toward its goal of being the safest community in the nation. For now, the changes that have already been made are making a great impact.
“We’ve seen a reduction in social crimes. Officer productivity has increased. “It’s a cultural revolution. It’s breaking the thin blue line and going about a new way of business.”