Sarpy County law enforcement agencies partner together to reduce traffic crashes after 22 fatal accidents in 2019

Published: Sep. 25, 2020 at 2:27 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 25, 2020 at 5:04 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -Nebraska’s fastest-growing county faced heartbreak after heartbreak last year as fatal crashes skyrocketed nearly double what they were the year previous.

Those working the deadly crashes decided they needed to find a way to prevent the crashes from happening in the first place.

So, the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office and local police departments in the county came up with the idea of a traffic task force.

It’s only been around for the past nine months and they are looking at a number of different factors that oftentimes cause the crashes they are seeing.

Sgt. Kyle Percifield has been with the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office for a dozen years now.

He’s part of the South Metro Crash Response Team.

That’s the team that responds to all crashes on Sarpy County Roadways.

“It just seemed like it was one right after another that kept occurring with several high profile cases just due to the nature of the crashes that occurred. It was just kind of cumulative over the year and towards the last quarter of the year is when we decided we were going to try and do something to get ahead of the problem,” says Sgt. Kyle Percifield

There are a few different factors as to why the county saw more crashes in 2019.

Sgt. Percifield says how quickly the county is growing is playing a role in some of the crashes.

So, the traffic task force is out in some of the newer problem areas.

“We are reaching some of those rural areas that are starting to grow, see a lot more traffic flow on those roadways that maybe weren’t designed to keep up with that capacity,” says Sgt. Percifield

Speed is another one of those reasons.

The vehicles the task force drive in are equipped with a system that can track how fast cars passing them on the street are going.

Since speed oftentimes plays a factor in serious crashes, the team targets speeders.

“We’re trying to be more proactive. we understand that getting stopped by a police officer or a deputy sheriff and getting a traffic citation is not always the most pleasant experience for the person on the other end and they might be frustrated by it but it’s our main tool of doing that. We’d really like to find another way to try and educate the public,” says Sgt. Percifield.

So far, fatal crashes are down 42% from this time last year.

Sgt. Percifield says the pandemic may play a role in reduced vehicles out on the roadways.

“Overall we are seeing a reduction that even though coronavirus kept people at home, there’s still the motoring public and we are still ou responding to stuff so we are definitely seeing a decrease in those crashes,” says Sgt. Percifield.

The Sarpy County Sheriff’s office is working with all the police departments in the county to help reduce the number of crashes.

They are also trying to work with the community.

They post on social media where they will be out and when.

They also want to hear from residents where some of the problem areas are.

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