Denver, CO

Councilmember sheds light on Denver crime

David Heitz

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Denver City Councilmember Kevin Flynn and Officer Chavez pass out light bulbs in Flynn's district.Photo byKevin Flynn

By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) Denver City Councilmember Kevin Flynn has a bright idea for curbing crime.

Flynn has been walking his district in recent days passing out bags of light bulbs with fliers. The low-energy, high-output LED bulbs are meant for the front and back porch lights. Flynn tells residents to keep the lights on around the clock.

Flynn said Xcel Energy donated 2,000 light bulbs to his cause. He said Councilmember Amanda Sawyer organized a similar program in her district last year.

Flynn posted about the light bulb program, dubbed “Lights on District 2,” on his Facebook page. Constituents seemed to like the idea.

“Will you be going to Bear Valley?” asked Kim Strong Herrera. “Because I walk my dog early in the morning and half the homes don't put their porch lights on.”

Another resident remarked that Mar Lee also is a dark neighborhood.

A common-sense approach

“Improved street lighting is widely thought to be an effective means
of preventing crime, second in importance only to increased police
presence,” writes Ronald V. Clarke, author of the Department of Justice paper “Improving Street Lighting to Reduce Crime in Residential Areas.”

“Indeed, residents in crime-ridden neighborhoods often
demand that the lighting be improved, and recent research generally
bears out their expectation that improved lighting does reduce
crime,” Clarke reports.

Sometimes, according to Clarke, more lighting can increase crime. This occurs because “increased visibility of potential victims allows better assessment of
their vulnerability and the value of what they carry. Offenders might
more easily be able to see if parked cars contain valuable items.”

Also, “Increased visibility allows better judgment of the proximity of ‘capable guardians’ who might intervene in crime,” Clark continues, (and) “Better lighting might facilitate activities like drug dealing and prostitution.”

Eye in the sky

Flynn used first-hand data to help him decide which neighborhoods to target first with free bulbs. He went up in the police helicopter at night, he explained on Facebook, and pinpointed the darkest spots.

“Love that you are bringing this to their attention,” commented Judy Gerken. “I wish more people would do this, every night.”

“Great idea,” added Luisa Ines Lumbano.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

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