Did you know cleaning your yard reduces crime?
On Wednesday I did a story on Spokane Code Enforcement partnering with the West Central Neighborhood Council, trying to get people to clean up their yards. Why? Because it will reduce crime.
The theory behind it is simple: if someone doesn’t take care of/show pride in their property, its unlikely other people will either. That attitude spreads to other properties and, eventually, graffiti shows up, then vandalism, then more serious crimes. And it can start with a few bags of trash or junk.
Some examples back the theory up: When Rudy Guiliani was elected mayor of New York City it was one of the most violent cities in America. Immediately Guiliani rolled out his ”zero tolerance” policy. He began enforcing laws that for years had gone unenforced. He started arresting public drinkers, public urinators, and began demanding that property owners take care of their property and take pride in their city. What happened? Crime rates for both property crime and violent crime plummeted. By the end of his tenure (and at least in part because of his ‘no tolerance’ policy) New York City became a much safer city.
Another example: Harvard researchers identified crime 34 ”hot spots” in the Boston suburb Lowell, Massachusetts. In 17 of the 34 crime ”hotspots” volunteers cleaned up yards and cleaned up streets. They beautified the areas. In the other 17 ‘hotspots’ they did nothing.
Within months, the 17 areas that received the ”clean-up” attention had a substantial reduction in crime and vandalism. The 17 areas that didn’t get any ”clean-up” attention, didn’t. The researchers concluded that cleaning up the physical environment lowered crime. Period. Cleaning up was even more effective than increased police presence in the areas, even more effective than more arrests!
Bottom line: in this era of law enforcement budget cuts and economic distress, we can’t afford not to clean our property.
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