With safety being one of the most important concerns on the minds of students, any initiative on behalf of university and city leaders to combat crime is worthy of recognition. Such is the case with a recent initiative by Ald. Eli Judge, District 8, to improve lighting conditions for residents of downtown Madison. The Downtown Residential Lighting Initiative, as it is called, provides grants for downtown property owners who wish to install lighting around their residences to ward off potential intruders.
We wholeheartedly agree with Judge’s proposal. While the city of Madison is facing difficult budget cuts and any new spending should be viewed with caution, the low price tag of the initiative — $50,000 — is a small price to pay for what may amount to significant improvement in downtown safety. As Judge indicated while discussing the proposal, both the university and city police departments are strong advocates of increased lighting in the downtown area as a crime-fighting measure.
We are also impressed by the fact that the DRLI places little burden on property renters or owners. The proposal does not mandate that downtown residents provide lighting outside their homes but rather provides them with the opportunity to do so if they feel it is necessary. In this way, the proposal serves to delegate some of the responsibility for safety onto residents themselves. Additionally, despite a 5 percent decrease in the overall Madison crime rate, burglaries have increased over the past year, and while it is essential that the Madison Police Department remains vigilant, students, many of whom are downtown residents, have a pertinent role to play in preventing these crimes of opportunity.
We hope that, in the budgetary fight that is certain to ensue as Madison’s City Council looks to cut programs across the board, this sensible and cost-effective proposal will be given an opportunity.