September 28, 2023

‘We’ll take all the help we can get.’ City promotes study showing greenspaces lower violent crime rates

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett discusses study showing the impact of greenspaces on violent crime  - WBAA News/Ben Thorp

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett discusses study showing the impact of greenspaces on violent crime

WBAA News/Ben Thorp

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett promoted a study this week showing how Indianapolis greenspaces could be linked to lowered crime rates.

The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, purportedly shows that greenspaces can reduce violent crime by roughly 12 percent within a half-mile radius.

Hogsett was joined by community members, police, and nonprofit Keep Indianapolis Beautiful at a park on the city’s east side to promote the study's findings.

The study, led by the University of Michigan, compared 36 sites where vacant lots were turned into greenspaces with sites where no improvements were made. Sites with greenspaces showed a drop of between six and twenty percent in violent assaults with a gun within a half-mile radius of the area.

Hogsett said Keep Indianapolis Beautiful has created roughly 60 greenspaces across the city.

“When they do that this study suggests they are helping to lower rates of violent crime. We’ll take all the help we can get,” he said.

According to an analysis of the study provided to reporters, overall crimes in Indianapolis have fallen between 2010 and 2021 - from 50,651 to 38,369. In that same period, violent crimes rose slightly, but violent crimes with a firearm have risen dramatically.

In 2010, assaults with a firearm comprised 10 percent of all violent crimes. In 2021, they represented 45 percent of all violent crimes.

But while greenspaces could be linked to a reduction in violent crimes, the analysis outlined they had little or no impact on other types of crime, such as those related to property.

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful CEO Jeremy Kranowitz said his organization creates about three greenspaces in the city every year.

“The places where we are going and building these parks are in the parts of the city that have lacked previously any type of green infrastructure,” he said. “It’s our goal to try to improve quality of life, make neighborhoods cleaner and greener. What has been really surprising has been the results of this research.”

Kranowitz said a key component of the greenspace is bringing community members together.

Debbie Parish is a resident who said she has lived in the area for her entire life. She said she fought hard to get a greenspace put in.

“The best thing about it [the park] is it got people together from the street over there, over here, been here thirty years and didn’t know each other,” she said. “Now they come down here to the park and have coffee.”

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