Houston suburb Alief, Texas, embarked on a mission to reduce violent crime — by planting trees. City leaders decided that the way to make their residents safer is to grow 1,200 new trees at a cost of $2 million.
How many uniformed police officers would $2 million fund?
Nevermind that Houston itself is one of the most violent cities in the U.S. The powers that be in Alief decided that in their struggle to keep residents safe, more shade would do the trick.
Here’s the logic. A study in the Journal of Public Economics concluded that when temperatures rise, so does the crime rate. Factor in data showing that Alief averages 10 degrees hotter in the summer than parts of Houston with numerous trees, and the conclusion is obvious.
Another study showed that Alief enjoys only an 11% tree canopy while Houston averages 33%.
The partnership between the Texas Dept. of Public Safety and the Austin Police Department is already making a difference.
Violent crime is DOWN 25% overall in Austin and DOWN 58% in areas DPS troopers are deployed.
Public safety is priority #1 in Texas.https://t.co/4PO5XsaZfX
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) April 18, 2023
Terry Jones, a longtime Alief resident, and president of Clayton Homes HOA told ABC13 that the project should be a major boost in fighting crime.
She predicted that “if we can cool things off, give people something to do that’s outside that’s going to engage them,” the suburb’s fortunes would change. Jones lauded local political leaders for having projects in the works such as public art and park improvements.
As much as leftists love to disparage the “broken window theory,” one local leader put stock in the belief. That is the idea that signs of societal decay and crime — such as broken windows — encourage lawlessness.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani drew fierce criticism from liberals but used that idea as his basis for cleaning up the city and reducing its outrageous crime rate.
In Alief, the president of the Super Neighborhood Council, Barbara Quattro, believes the trees are “a win-win for everybody.
She said they will spruce up the suburb and cause people to respect their surroundings more. As she explained, “If the place looks ugly and barren and it looks like nobody cares for it, nobody will care for it. I think that encourages crime. It encourages vandalism.”
Local leaders are using $2 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to plant the trees, mostly in medians or by sidewalks. Planting is expected to begin next winter.