Crime Lab New York New York City Lights Study
While New York City has made enormous strides in reducing violence since the 1990s, progress has been slower in the city’s public housing developments, home to half a million New Yorkers. Strategies that many believe helped reduce violence citywide—including efforts to predict “hot spots” and increased police presence in those areas—have presented challenges in the public housing context, where residents have borne a disproportionate share of police contact.
To begin to rebuild police-community trust and help keep these neighborhoods safe, New York City is looking to non-enforcement strategies.
One promising approach is improved street lighting, which may prevent crime both by eliminating dark spaces and by signaling new community investment.
Crime Lab New York, together with the New York City Police Department and the New York City Housing Authority, is testing this approach to reducing violence (not simply displacing it) with a randomized controlled trial of the impact of lighting on crime. This study will generate rigorous evidence about the efficacy of adding and improving street lighting in public housing as a non-enforcement alternative to traditional anti-violence strategies.
“We need to use every tool at our disposal to ensure that every New Yorker is safe. By partnering with residents from these 40 developments on this rigorously evaluated study, the City will be able to understand precisely how different lighting strategies can reduce crime and create safer public spaces.”Bill de Blasio Mayor, New York City
“When we think about deterring crime, we need to pursue a broad range of strategies beyond traditional law enforcement. A well-lit street deters crime better than a dark alley, just as opportunities for work and play promote safety better than disadvantage and disconnection."Elizabeth Glazer Director of the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice