Lake Norman & Mooresville

Program cited for safer NC 150 in Mooresville area

Signs warning motorists that they are entering a “Data Driven Enforcement Area” have been posted on Highway 150 in Mooresville.
Signs warning motorists that they are entering a “Data Driven Enforcement Area” have been posted on Highway 150 in Mooresville. DAVE VIESER

A nationally recognized policing model on N.C. 150 in Mooresville has resulted in a reduction of traffic accidents and criminal activity since the program began in January, Mooresville police say.

“Our efforts have already produced benefits,” said Mooresville Police Capt. Frank Falzone. “We’ve had a 6.9 percent decrease in traffic accidents, a 50 percent cut in breaking and entering and a 12.2 percent drop in larcenies.” At the same time, traffic stops are up by 51 percent, according to Falzone.

The program, known as Data-Driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Safety, combines the use of technology with higher-visibility traffic enforcement on N.C. 150, one of the busiest roads in the Lake Norman area.

Mooresville police use saturation patrols and strict traffic enforcement. Depending upon call volume, three or more officers will work the 1.4-mile stretch at any given time of the day.

Mooresville officials say they use both marked and unmarked vehicles as well as motorcycles, though they generally prefer marked police cars for greater public visibility.

“We are currently focusing our patrols from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. seven days a week,” Falzone said. “The area, of course, is also routinely staffed by our patrol division, so traffic enforcement continues on a 24/7 basis.” Not surprisingly, Friday and Saturday are the highest average call-volume days in the Data-Driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Safety area.

There’s no additional cost to the town for implementing the program, just a matter of reassigning existing resources, Falzone said. This is the first time Mooresville has enacted such a patrol initiative.

The heavily developed 1.4-mile stretch of four lane highway between Morrison Plantation Parkway and Portestowne Way, which includes the Interstate 77 Exit 36 interchange, was chosen for the program because it showed the heaviest concentration of overlapping traffic crashes and crimes in the town.

The program was developed several years ago through a collaborative effort between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Bureau of Justice Assistance and the National Institute of Justice. “In essence, DDACTS places a renewed focus on traffic law enforcement as an effective tool in reducing crime, crashes and traffic violations in a specific area of a community,” said James Burch II, of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Burch said there have been many successful such programs implemented throughout the country. For example, Nashville implemented a similar program several years ago and the overall crime rate dropped to the lowest level since 1985; the property crime rate was the lowest since 1979.

Mooresville’s program began in January, and it’s open-ended, according to Falzone. However, it will be routinely reviewed to ensure the borders of the area remain accurate, the area still qualifies for the approach and the Police Department resources continue to be used as efficiently as possible.

Dave Vieser is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Dave? Email him at davidvieser@gmail.com.

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