Published: Mar 14, 2009 12:30 AM
Modified: Mar 14, 2009 06:40 AM
I am a resident of Champions Pointe Drive located in northern Durham in the Treyburn Community, and I am very concerned about safety and feeling secure in my community. One of the main reasons I moved here from Maryland was because I felt I could be safe and secure here.
My street has had a wave of crime since September 2008, with one break-in during the daytime and at least five attempted break-ins during the middle of the night (3:30 a.m., 4 a.m., 5:30 a.m., etc). There have also been thefts from vehicles parked in our driveways. It seems Champions Pointe Drive has been targeted because of the extreme darkness of our street, which allows for an easy getaway of criminals without being seen.
I have small grandchildren who come and stay with me occasionally, and I know this is the case for some other residents here on my street. There are a lot of families on our street, and we want to feel safe and secure, and do not want to see anybody getting hurt as a result of people breaking into homes during the middle of the night when we are home. This is very frightening and upsetting for us adults and definitely for our children. The police have been called each time a crime has been committed, we have had community meetings with the police, and they have stated that our street needs to have more sufficient lighting.
There are some here in Durham who feel streetlights do not reduce crime ("Let citizens decide streetlight location," DN March 8). I lived in an urban area in Maryland before I moved here, and it was a proven fact there in Maryland that where you had sufficient lighting you had reduced crime, and that lighting improves visibility and deters potential offenders by increasing the risks that they will be recognized or interrupted in the course of their criminal activities.
There have been many studies completed on street lighting and its effect on crime. One such study completed by The Campbell Collaboration, an international research network that produces systematic reviews of social interventions, states that improvement in crime rates happen because better street lighting is a sign of an orderly neighborhood: a neighborhood where people call the police if they see a crime. This study found that improved street lighting reduces crime by 21 percent in experimental areas compared to similar areas with no streetlights. The study also suggested that when local government chooses to improve conditions in our neighborhoods, such as improved street lighting, it sends a signal that they care about us and will create a more positive image of our neighborhood, which strengthens community cohesion and pride.
The overall conclusion of this study states that improved street lighting is an effective means of preventing crime, and the financial costs can be recouped through savings from reduced crime.
Improved street lighting also assists emergency vehicles in identifying locations where they have been dispatched. We also want to be able to enjoy our freedom to walk in our communities in the late evenings without fear and walk our dogs in a peaceable and safe manner.
I and a few others on my street have submitted requests for improved street lighting, however we have been told that the city has suspended installing any new street lighting. As a taxpayer and concerned citizen I have asked the city to move forward with the street lighting program and allow us to have quality streetlights installed so that we can feel safe and secure in our homes again.
(Guest columnist Shirley A. Lennon lives in Durham.)
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