Edina’s police force has long been famous for the number of traffic citations it issues.
The city issued more speeding tickets per capita in 2011—8,700—than did any of the other 84 police departments throughout the metro area. And in 2009, Edina cops caught Vikings star Adrian Peterson driving 109 miles per hour.
But the city’s reputation as a speeding stickler is to be praised, says outgoing police chief Jeff Long.
“When we work really hard, sometimes people get mad at that,” he said in an interview earlier this year, “but there’s a direct correlation between traffic enforcement and crime reduction because if people are seeing cops, they’re going to remember that.”
To prove his point, Long shares a surprising anecdote.
In 2011 and 2012, during the “Man in Black” robbery spree that would target 31 Minnesota banks, Edina was on high alert, Long said, placing undercover detectives “in every bank, every morning, just waiting for him to hit.”
But Edina’s banks stayed Man in Black free and after Sheik Bilaal Muhammad Arafat was arrested in January, Long developed a theory as to why.
“He had been arrested once in Edina and stopped once in Edina for a traffic violation,” he said. “When they see cops, they’re going to stay away, because they think we’re all over.”
About 35 of Edina’s officers patrol the city’s 230 miles of roads. The three highways that run through Edina—169, 62, and 100—have speed limits 5 to 10 miles below the state limit for urban expressways. Average speeding tickets are issued to people driving 17 miles per hour over the limit.“We get constant complaints from people that people are just driving too fast,” Long said. “It’s not the police department that’s aggressive, it’s the drivers.”