To help deter crime, a DC nonprofit wants to keep the lights on

A street light on 18th Street and Kalorama Road in Northwest D.C. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)

After a grisly triple homicide in the D.C. neighborhood of Adams Morgan earlier this month, a nonprofit is pointing to a simple solution that may deter some crime in the area: fixing broken street lights.

As he toured around Adams Morgan Tuesday morning, Terry Lynch, the executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, told WTOP he surveyed the same area after an Aug. 5 shooting left three dead.

“I came out here that Saturday night, and I walked about a 10-block area and noticed about 20 street lights out, either at schools, by the curbs or here in Unity Park, which is a block away,” Lynch said.

He recorded lights on Kalorama Road and 17th Street in Northwest, which he acknowledges have since been fixed after he reported them.

“There are street lights out at H.D. Cooke [Elementary School] and Marie Reed [Elementary School]. There we had that tragic, terrible shooting right at Marie Reed. Their exterior lights are out at both those properties,” he said.

Lynch told WTOP more illumination is a simple, cost-effective way to deter some criminal actions.

“People are looking for dark spots, unfortunately, when they’re doing bad things,” he said. “They don’t want to be seen. They don’t want a camera catching them.”

He pointed to a newly-erected D.C. police spotlight and camera system in the area of the triple homicide on Ontario Road.

“So that’s what the police do almost invariably whenever there’s a homicide, they’ll pull out, and they’ll bring in a special spotlight and put it at that location because they know that deters some of the criminal activity,” he said.

A spotlight placed on the street by D.C. police to help deter crime. (Luke Lukert/WTOP)

Lynch wrote a letter to City Administrator Kevin Donahue asking for more service to fix these broken lights from the transportation and general services departments, which handle street light maintenance and other lights on public buildings.

“It’s not just on the police anymore,” Lynch said. “It’s going to take all of our city agencies and all the community members working together to play the critical role [of making] our neighborhoods safer.”

Lynch urged neighborhood residents to call 311 and report streetlight outages.

WTOP has reached out to the City Administrator for comment.

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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