AUSTIN (KXAN) - Austin police and Austin Energy are teaming up to keep people safer in Downtown Austin. After a spike in violent crime over the last year, both agencies are looking to light things up with high wattage LED lights in three of downtown's most dangerous areas.
"You don't too often see crimes being committed in areas that are well lit- criminals like to lurk in the dark because they don't want to be seen," said Austin Energy spokesman Carlos Cordova.
At the request of APD, Austin Energy is installing 25 new lights. The new bulbs will be brighter -- 400 watts -- compared to the 250 they are now.
"This is a nice area where people want to come and have fun," said Cordova. "It's a big economic generator for the city of Austin and for Austin so we want people to come down here and enjoy themselves and be safe -- this extra lighting helps promote all of that."
Two test lights showed a lot of success at Neches Street between Eighth and Ninth streets. In fact, the lights are just the latest in a series of initiatives that seem to be curbing crime downtown. Violent crime in January increased 15 percent from the year before. In July -- it was up only 7.8 percent.
Bob Guerin has lived in Downtown Austin for 10 years and says he supports the extra lighting.
"It makes sense -- bright lights are going to move the crime," said Guerin. "I'm all for it."
Two of these new lights have already been installed and Austin Energy says the rest will go up over the next month. They are part of a larger program to replace 70,000 lights throughout the city; the cost comes out of the Austin Energy budget.
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