ST. PAUL – With activities that included a mock crash at Big Lake High School, overtime traffic safety enforcement, and responsible alcohol server training for local establishments, law enforcement agencies in Sherburne County understand that it requires multiple strategies to influence driver behaviors. Their dedication to protecting Minnesotans on the road is being recognized with the Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) Commissioner’s Award from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS).
DPS Commissioner John Harrington and the Office of Traffic Safety will honor the Elk River Police Department and its partner agencies during a recognition luncheon this summer.
Keeping Motorists Safe
The Elk River Police Department is the lead agency of the TZD Enforcement Grant that includes the Becker Police Department, Big Lake Police Department and the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office. The agencies collaborate with the Minnesota State Patrol on grant-funded traffic safety efforts.
Elk River and its partners engaged in continuous coordinated enforcement, including high visibility extra enforcement during statewide campaigns, as well as enforcement efforts between statewide campaigns. Other activities to keep Minnesotans safe included:
- Distracted driving and impaired driving events using a pedal car at various schools.
- Promotion of the teen driving event at the Minnesota Highway & Safety Research Center.
- Elk River Police dedicated an unmarked squad car to traffic enforcement with an emphasis on texting and distracted driving.
- Becker Police participated in pedestrian crosswalk enforcement.
- Big Lake Police and Sherburne County received honors for impaired driving enforcement.
- All partner agencies use social media to reach Minnesotans, and the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office notifies the community of high visibility enforcement via the Nextdoor social network application.
The Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety selected Elk River Police and its partner agencies for protecting the county’s citizens through effective traffic safety efforts and their long term commitment to the TZD program.
“Traffic safety is a cornerstone of all police work and this award goes to show what can be done when it’s applied in an exceptional fashion,” said Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington. “We recognize the critical work of law enforcement agencies in making sure each one of us gets home safely at night. We’re pleased to recognize the efforts of the Elk River Police Department and its partner agencies for saving lives in Sherburne County.”
The Commissioner’s Award highlights the exceptional partnership of municipal, county and state law enforcement agencies working together on a highly visible, well-publicized traffic safety enforcement program funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Grant-funded agencies are nominated for the Commissioner’s Award based on several criteria, including:
- Coordinated grant-funded enforcement efforts throughout the year on behaviors that impact Minnesotans in tragic ways – lack of seat belt use, distracted driving, drunk driving and speeding.
- Community policing activities such as parent awareness classes, mock crash events and safety education in schools.
- Timely and accurate reporting of extra enforcement campaign results.
About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About the Office of Traffic Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) designs, implements and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. DPS-OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program and for child seats for the needy families program.
DPS-OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) traffic safety program. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes – education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency medical and trauma response — and everyone doing the right thing when driving.
Recent DPS-OTS Activity and Statistics
- Texting and driving citations jumped 30 percent from 2017 to 2018 with 9,545 tickets written by law enforcement statewide in 2018, according to Minnesota court records. Since 2012, texting citations increased by 459 percent.
- During the holiday DWI campaign that included extra enforcement from Nov. 21 – Dec. 29, officers, deputies and troopers arrested 2,757 drivers for driving impaired compared with 2,656 DWI arrests during the same period in 2017.
- Preliminary reports show there were 380 traffic deaths on Minnesota roads in 2018, compared with 358 in 2017.