Brighter lights downtown hope to dim crime in the area
The city will work with Colorado Springs Utilities to replace existing street lights with LED lights in specified areas of downtown.
CSU crews will install 95 lights between Acacia Park and Tejon Street between Boulder Street and Colorado Avenue throughout the next two weeks.
"Increasing the light levels with a brighter, whiter light [will] encourage people to come downtown and enjoy the experiences of downtown," said Nick Kittle.
Kittle, who the city's manager of Administrative Services and Innovation, played a key role in securing LED lights for downtown. The city used a grant to purchase the lights so it didn't require any money from the city's general fund.
The city's current lights emit light with a yellow hue. The new lights will be whiter and brighter. Kittle said these brighter lights will help downtown visitors see more clearly during evening hours. It will also help volunteer camera operators keep tabs on the city's downtown cameras.
"The brighter light can help with the camera that have been installed downtown. If you are walking along the sidewalk, you know exactly what is coming. It just provides a little more lighting downtown and makes it feel a little safer," said Kittle.
With the current lights, it can be difficult for camera operators to differentiate colors. For example, operators will now be able to tell if a suspect's vehicle is dark blue or black with the new lights.
"The LEDs giving off brighter, more consistent color will give any of our volunteer operators the opportunity to see a little more clearly the color of cars, the colors of clothing," said Sgt. Jeff Strossner.
Strossner works for Colorado Springs' Gold Hill division. It's the division that oversees downtown.
Strossner said cities around the country use LED lights and smart technology to reduce crime. The technology gives police officers the opportunity to adjust lights when necessary.
For example, he said the LED lights could emit a standard level of light in a park. However, if there is a fight at a park, officers could turn up the lights to 200 percent with a switch inside their squad car. He said this would allow officers to respond more safely and better assess the situation. After the incident is resolved, the officer could turn the lights back down.
The city's new LED lights could be used for that purpose. However, the city would also need to purchase the technology used to control the lights. Right now, it utilized all the grant money to purchase the LED lights for the specified area of downtown. Strossner hopes the city will consider purchasing the technology in the future.
The installation of these lights is an extension of a previous pilot program that installed 300 lights in neighborhoods around Colorado Springs. The new lights will save 40 to 60 percent more energy than current lights. Kittle said the lights will also cut down on maintenance fees because they last 25 years. The current lamps last eight to 12 years.
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