Distracted Driver Awareness Month

Although EPPD officers are always on the lookout for distracted drivers, they will be extra vigilant this month as April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Throughout April, as part of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Towards Zero Deaths program, EPPD officers will join officers from Bloomington, Richfield, Edina, Hopkins and the Airport to conduct distracted driver details in those cities. The date for the Eden Prairie detail is April 17.

In Eden Prairie the number of distracted driving citations and warnings issued nearly doubled from 103 in 2015 to 205 in 2016. To date in 2017 the EPPD has issued 40 distracted driving citations and warnings. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, each year in Minnesota distracted or inattentive driving is a factor in one in four crashes resulting in at least 70 deaths and 350 serious injuries.

As a reminder, it is illegal in Minnesota for drivers to read, compose or send texts or emails, or access the web while a vehicle is moving or in traffic. This includes when a vehicle is stopped at a stoplight. In addition, it is illegal for drivers under age 18 to use a cell phone, whether hand-held or hands-free, except to call 911 in an emergency.

While phones are the most widely discussed distraction there are other ways in which drivers can become distracted including:

  • Music and other controls. Tip: pre-program favorite radio stations for easy access and arrange music in an easy-to-access spot. Adjust mirrors and heat/AC before traveling, or ask a passenger to assist.
  • Navigation. Tip: designate a passenger to serve as a co-pilot to help with directions. If driving alone, map out destinations in advance.
  • Eating and drinking. Tip: try to avoid consuming food and beverages, in particular messy foods, and be sure food and drinks are secured.
  • Children. Tip: teach children the importance of good behavior in a vehicle; do not underestimate how distracting it can be to tend to children while driving.

Please note: it is illegal in Minnesota to drive with listening devices (earbuds, headphones) in both ears. Having both ears covered does not allow outside sounds to reach the driver, making them less aware of their surroundings.

Using a hands-free device (earpiece, dashboard system, speakerphone) can also be dangerous and provide a false sense of security as the brain simply cannot do two “thinking” things, like driving and talking, at the same time. According to the National Safety Council, the activity in the area of the brain that processes moving images decreases by up to one-third when listening to or talking on a phone.

The EPPD would like to remind all drivers that when you are driving, your ONLY responsibility is to drive.

Rating the PD

Every other year the City of Eden Prairie hires an outside firm to conduct a community survey in which randomly selected households are asked to give their opinions on the quality of life in Eden Prairie. City leaders, including those in the police department, use the survey results as a tool to gauge how well we’re doing our jobs and what areas we need to work on. The most recent survey was conducted in late 2016 and the results have just been made available.

Here’s what we learned about how residents feel about safety and EPPD:

  • When rating potential problems in the community, traffic speeding was rated by 27% of respondents as being a “moderate,” “major” or “extreme” problem. Although ratings in 2016 were similar to 2014, traffic speeding ratings as a problem have generally declined over time.
  • Similar to 2014, almost all residents (95%) evaluated their overall feeling of safety as “excellent” or “good.”
  • Also similar to 2014, most residents reported feeling “very” or “somewhat” safe in their neighborhoods (95%), at the Eden Prairie Center mall (95%), in parks and open space (94%), on paths or walking trails (93%) and in retail parking lots (93%).
  • When asked to indicate whether or not residents had contact with the Police Department through 10 avenues, the highest percentage (18%) said they had contact through the Eden Prairie Night to Unite event. Slightly fewer (15%) reported contact through community programs. Contact with the Police Department remained stable between 2014 and 2016.
  • Those who reported having contact with the Police Department were asked to rate their interaction with them. About 93% of residents rated their contact as “excellent” or “good,” a rating which remained stable over time.

The City of Eden Prairie’s website has a complete report of the survey results.

2016 EPPD Statistics

Eden Prairie Police Department2016 was, once again, a busy year for the EPPD! Here’s a sampling of the activities that kept us busy last year:

  • 4 homicides
  • 40 death investigations (deaths which were not witnessed by another person and where the person was not in hospice or under a doctor’s care)
  • 14 prostitution arrests
  • 76 domestic assault calls
  • 255 DWIs
  • 16,202 traffic stops
  • 169 medical – psychiatric calls
  • 131 suicide attempt/threat calls
  • 3,363 911 hang-up calls
  • 27 vehicle thefts
  • 222 shoplifting cases
  • 1,550 intrusion alarms
  • 18 apiary (beekeeping) registrations
  • 316 disturbing the peace calls
  • 30 animal bite calls
  • 322 fingerprint services
  • 149 child safety seat inspections
  • 164 barking dog calls
  • 1,096 car lockouts
  • 124 school bus stop arm violations
  • 10 calls for people stuck in elevators

Click here to view the 2016 Annual Report [PDF] which contains more statistics and other information on what the EPPD was up to last year.

Sign up for Safety Camp!

Do you have a child entering 3rd grade next fall? If so, we’ve got a camp for you!

Each year the City of Eden Prairie’s Police, Fire and Parks and Recreation departments host a two-day Safety Camp at Riley Lake. Campers learn about all kinds of safety topics including water safety, personal safety, internet safety, bike safety, animal safety, fire safety and many others. At the end of the camp, kids and parents attend a celebratory graduation ceremony.

This year’s camp is June 27-28 and costs $60. Click here to register for Safety Camp. Sign up early as this popular camp tends to sell out and is only available to children entering 3rd grade in the fall.

We hope to see you there!

Explorer Post of the Year

Explorer Captain Katie Kline accepts the Explorer Post of the Year Award on behalf of the Edina/Eden Prairie Explorer Post

Last night the Edina/Eden Prairie Explorer Post was awarded Post of the Year by the Northern Star Council.

The Post received the award for the dedication, teamwork and service they bring to the Explorer Post, a volunteer organization for young people ages 14-21 who are interested in law enforcement. Explorers gain working knowledge of the field through hands-on experience, including training sessions and volunteering in the community.

In particular the Post’s nomination noted the Explorers’ commitment to volunteering at community events in Eden Prairie and Edina, including Schooner Days, Safety Camp, Polar Plunge, Fourth of July parades and fireworks displays, and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

Accepting the award on behalf of the Post was Explorer Captain Katie Kline who also works as a part-time Community Service Officer for the EPPD.

We appreciate all that the Explorers do for our community and congratulate them on being named Post of the Year!