LSU study shows link between blighted property and homicide in Baton Rouge

LSU study shows link between blighted property and homicide in Baton Rouge
The Blight Strike Team demolishing an abandoned property in East Baton Rouge Parish (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A new LSU study shows a link between homicide, blighted property and convenience stores in Baton Rouge.

The research was led by Matthew Valasik, an LSU Sociology assistant professor, and recently published in the journal of Social Science Research. The study found that 25 percent of homicides in Baton Rouge took place in same areas that make up about three percent of the city.

The study used a computational model that ran 18 environmental risk factors on the locations of homicides that happened in 2016. Results showed that the homicide occurs commonly in areas where there’s a concentration of blighted buildings and close proximity to convenience stores.

Researchers identified these clusters of blighted properties and then overlaid the location of homicides in 2017.

“If you are within a three and half block radius of a convenience store, the risk of homicide increases five-fold. Similarly, if you live within two and a half blocks of a blighted building, the risk increases by 13 times,” Valasik said.

The study is first to show a correlation between physical landscape and built environment and crime in Baton Rouge.

City officials have been calling to tackle blight in the city. The Baton Rouge Area Chamber listed blighted properties as one of its priorities in its 2019 strategic plan. Last year, Mayor Sharon Weston Broome created the Blight Strike team, and had said homes were being demolished to get rid of abandoned areas in neighborhoods.

Read more about the study here.

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