#abq4ward: Improved streetlights may help illuminate path to crime solution
July 21, 2017 10:24 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Fighting crime and moving Albuquerque forward is not black and white. It’s a complex issue with several key players. However, some of the solutions may be quicker and easier than you’d think.
In fact, it might be as simple as changing a light bulb.
Driving around downtown Albuquerque at 5 a.m. one weekday morning, it didn’t take long for KOB news crews to find three streetlights out.
In 2008, two researchers did an in-depth analysis of 13 studies to evaluate the effects of improved street lighting on crime. They found lighting neighborhoods significantly reduces crime. Even reviewers of their research concluded improved street lighting should continue to be used to prevent crime in public areas.
Darkness can also impact quality of life and how residents feel walking around their town. A survey conducted by the Denver Police Department concluded, “The presence of graffiti, darkness, illicit activities and stray animals leads to a fear of crime.”
In Albuquerque, PNM owns about 12,000 street lights. The city owns about 19,000. It's up to PNM to maintain all of them, and there is always a backlog in that maintenance plan.
PNM spokesman Dan Ware said on any given day, they have between 150 and 200 lights waiting to be fixed. They are able to repair about 40 lights per day, leaving more than 100 across the city in the dark.
Mayor Richard Berry acknowledges this is a problem.
"Our city, currently, for the last number of decades if you look at the studies is actually under-lit," he said.
In October 2015, the city announced plans to "Illuminate Albuquerque." The project is currently in its final phase, which involves converting all city-owned street lights to LED. Berry said the new lights will allow crews to pin point exactly which light is out, leading to faster repair times. They also last longer, so the lights won't go dark as often.
"We're working on all of these things but we shouldn't forget that lighting our city in a better, more efficient way and making it brighter can only help public safety and studies have shown that it will," he said.
In the meantime, APD Crime Prevention Specialist Steve Sink recommends we do what we can to light up the night at our own homes. He said it not only acts as a deterrent, it can also help police catch those who don't mind the spotlight.
"If you don't have your property well-illuminated, then you're losing the benefit of those cameras," Sink said.
For those worried about there being too much lighting, Berry said engineers have worked to make sure that's not an issue.
"We've paid particular attention to the ordinances that we have in the city and we want to make sure to protect our beautiful night sky," he said.
If you see a street light in the dark, call PNM at 1-888-DIAL-PNM (1-888-342-5766).
Updated: July 21, 2017 10:24 PM
Created: July 21, 2017 08:30 PM
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