NIXA, Mo. (KY3) - The Nixa Police Department said its frequent traffic stops are making the community safer. In 2019, officers pulled over 4,000 drivers than the year before.
Last year, the Nixa police chief encouraged officers to make more traffic stops, but not necessarily write more tickets. In 2019, the number of traffic crashes went down and nearly every crime category decreased, too. The chief said that proves being seen means more safety.
"We made a concerted effort to be visible in the public," said Chief Joe Campbell. "The way we did that was by encouraging our officers to make good traffic stops and go out there, be seen, do traffic enforcement, with the goal in mind to reduce those crashes."
Most of the time, getting pulled over doesn't mean getting a ticket from a Nixa police officer. Nixa PD reports, last year, about 88% of traffic stops ended with a verbal warning. Campbell said that's exactly what he wants.
"During those traffic stops, if [officers] can get the job done with a warning, and they can change a person’s driving behavior, that’s our goal," he said.
Campbell said that strategy led to a 15% decrease in car crashes.
Officer Britany Findley has been with Nixa P-D for almost two years. She says she makes about a half dozen traffic stops every shift.
"Just us being out, being seen, I think helps a lot with traffic control. You don't have to sit somewhere and run radar. You can just drive and people are going to slow down, they're going to obey traffic laws," Findley said.
She said she's seen driving behavior shift just being near a police officer in traffic.
"You’ll see them come up next to us in the turn lane and they’ll be putting their seatbelt on at that point. Or, they won’t have their blinker on until we get behind them," Findley said.
Campbell said making more stops isn't about making more money. According to the city, less than 2% of the department's funding comes from traffic tickets.
"Generating revenue through tickets, that's just something we don't care about," Campbell said. "You're encouraging people to drive safe and be safe."
Findley acknowledges, getting pulled over might be an inconvenience for drivers, but for her, the community's safety is worth it.
"I like that our officers are out being seen, not just sitting in an office somewhere," Findley said.
Property crimes dropped last year, too. Campbell said he believes the crime stats go back to traffic stops. He and Findley both said a more public police presence make citizens safer on the road and in their homes.
Campbell said the property crime drop could also have something to do with the department's "9 p.m. routine." It's a nightly social media post reminding citizens to bring personal belongings in from their cars, close garages and lock doors.
Last year, Nixax recorded a dramatic drop in theft from vehicles.
For more on Nixa Police Department's annual crime report, click HERE.