Police Chiefs Told How To “Build Their Way” Out Of Crime


Crime and police calls for service in some “hot spots” can be reduced through increased cooperation between law enforcement and local real-estate developers, speakers told the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual convention in Denver this week.

In some areas, police cannot “arrest away” a persistent crime problem but can help “build it away,” Chicago-based consultant Bill Geller said of three pilot studies in Providence, Minneapolis, and Charlotte. His work with New York City consultant Lisa Belsky is featured in a new publication from the Justice Department’s COPS office.

A project that replaced dilapidated housing in Providence’s troubled Olneyville neighborhood with what police commander Dean Isabella called “attractive, affordable homes” helped bring down crime reports 60 percent; calls for service dropped 40 percent. Similar results were reported in Charlotte’s Druid Hills neighborhood and in Minneapolis’ Phillips area, where a bakery became a fixture in an area that previously had been known for open-air drug sales. Calls to police about drug problems in Phillips dropped to near zero. Researchers are confident that the economic development did not merely displace crime to other areas.

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