Alleyway beautification deterring crime in Northeast

Elizabeth Orosco
Northeast News

Pendleton Heights neighborhood has worked to beautify the majority of their 17 alleyways, a project the community and law enforcement are saying helps deter crime in the area.

A recent $5,000 grant from the Missouri Department of Conservation will fund the beautification of the alleys, provide two rain barrels, and different plants that will help with erosion issues for the neighborhood orchard at Lexington Avenue and Montgall.

Linda Fleischman, a Pendleton Heights resident for 12 years, shares Jade Alley (known as Olive Park Alley) with several other neighbors who have put in effort to clean up and light the alleyway.

They have cleaned the alley, put down mulch, did landscaping, strung up fairy lights down the alley, and placed art installations at various spots.

“We use our alleys to visit neighbors,” said Fleischman. “It’s become a private lane where it’s sort of an extension of our backyards.”

She said one year the neighbors held an Olive Park Alley Fest to raise money for Scuola Vita Nuova, a local charter school.

Fleischman said the grant has helped tremendously to get people on board with the beautification efforts and providing a lot of resources to the community.

She said she also sees it as a method to deter criminals.

“The alley is lit at night. This sends the message that we are alert, we are cohesive, and we are a team.”

Sergeant Justin Pinkerton with the Kansas City Police Department said this is a huge help from a law enforcement perspective.

He has been with KCPD for 12 years and has spent his entire career in Center Zone working with communities like Pendleton Heights.

“Criminals like to do things when they’re not being seen,” he said. “They want privacy, darkness. When a neighborhood steps up and puts up lights, it’s unattractive to a criminal because it doesn’t fit the standard environment that they like to operate in.”

He said what the neighborhood is doing fits in with CPTED, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, a model KCPD has been working to implement.

“This includes putting up lights and landscaping, Sergeant Pinkerton said. “Landscape can provide privacy, but overgrown bushes and poor lighting can also limit the view of what can be seen and make it easy to prowl and lurk around a house. The privacy you desire is also giving privacy to someone casing a house.”

Sergeant Pinkerton also recommended surveillance cameras, Ring doorbells or flood lights as additional crime deterrents.

His main recommendation for a crime deterrent? A dog.

“Dogs are the best deterrent,” he said. “You don’t need to have a huge dog. Dogs just need to bark and alert people.”

Ultimately, Sergeant Pinkerton said the strength of a community is when it can come together and take back their neighborhood.

“It’s a great help to the police department when a neighborhood takes ownership of itself,” he said. “You’re ultimately saying ‘we aren’t going to put up with this, we are going to take ownership and watch out for one another.’”

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