INDIANAPOLIS, Ind – The city of Indianapolis has not installed a new streetlight in 35 years and many residents believe criminals have been taking advantage of the dark.
The city says that’s changing with the announcement of a new plan to add more lights to the sidewalks and streets of Indianapolis.
“If there was more lighting, I think it would make people think twice about the things that they do,” said Dontel Johnson.
Johnson and his family have lived along North College Avenue for seven years.
He says the poorly lit portion of his neighborhood desperately needs light.
“My house was broken in to. I believe if there was more lighting, that the people in question would have been detoured,” said Johnson.
On May 12, 54-year-old Billy Boyd was shot and killed along North College Avenue late at night across from Johnson`s house.
It`s believed the accused killer, Jonathan Cruz, took advantage of the dark, poorly lit street to the commit murder.
“That streetlight probably would have detoured that guy from jumping out and chasing him down,” Johnson explained.
For 35 years, adding new streetlights was halted as a way to save the city money, but now the lack of light is costing Indianapolis more than its bottom line.
“No longer will we allow criminals to lurk in the shadows of our great neighborhoods. No longer will we be afraid to walk down our streets at night,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett.
Operation Night Light will add 100 new streetlights around the city.
The first was installed on the near East side during an announcement from city officials and community leaders.
“We will identify and rectify the lack of necessary streetlights in Indianapolis in a multi-phased strategic initiative,” said Hogsett.
Diana Gibbons says her neighborhood was in the dark for a couple of years.
Fixing the streetlight and adding lighting to homes has made a difference along Crestview Avenue in just the past several months.
Last September, 27-year-old Joshaua Thomas was shot and killed in his SUV parked along Crestview.
“We found out later it was exactly that. Dark street, opportunity. That`s all it was,” said Gibbons.
Since then, her neighborhood got the streetlight fixed and residents added their own lights to cast out the shadows.
“Other cities have lifted their moratoriums as well and have started repairing and installing new street lights and have seen a decrease in crime in the area with the adding of the street lights,” Gibbons explained.
Additional street lighting will be installed in areas based on community growth, neighborhood requests and public safety.
Operation Night Light will require no additional tax dollars, and includes a partnership with IPL.