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.