Tampa Police are urging people to light up their neighborhoods following two murders in Southeast Seminole Heights that they believe may be connected. The department is even offering to install light bulbs in people's homes if necessary.
"We'll even provide them with the light bulbs," police said in a press conference about the murders on Tuesday.
City leaders say streetlights help create safer streets and neighborhoods, and are working to install 2,000 additional streetlights within the next two years through the Bright Lights, Safe Nights program.
The plan is to add approximately 8,400 new street lights over the next five years, expanding the current street light network by 30 percent. Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced the Bright Lights, Safe Nights street lighting program in October 2012. The City of Tampa has partnered with Tampa Electric Company to implement it.
The initiative targets locations in zones with high crime or high crash rates.
The Tampa Heights Civic Association pushed for additional lighting in an alley near Tampa Street and E. 26th Ave., that surrounds the Good Samaritan Inn. The city moved the project to priority status through the Bright Lights, Safe Nights program.
During the day, residents who live near the alley say people are using the area for crime, as there is very little, if any streetlighting.
Jena Haralson lives across the street and walks home from work.
"I power walk and it takes between 10 and 12 minutes," Haralson said.
She said she walks fast and takes no chances.
"People are out here, desperate," Haralson said.
Christina Giba also lives nearby and said additional lighting is long overdue.
'Somebody was just mugged on the sidewalk right here," she said.
Jean Duncan, the director of Transportation and Stormwater Services said they are seeing a lot of benefits in areas that have had new lights installed with Bright Lights, Safe Nights, including fewer traffic accidents and a reduction in crime.
"Our TPD officers are better able to patrol the streets with better lighting to see what's going on," Duncan said.
Neighbors say more lighting alone will not eliminate crime, but this is a good start.
"First, you have to take baby steps," Haralson said. "You have to take baby steps in whatever you do to stop crime."
Tampa Electric Company requires that alleys be easily accessible by truck for streetlight installation, according to the City of Tampa.
Tampa Electric asks for 4 – 6 weeks to design each job installing streetlights. Once the design is approved by the City, TECO needs another 4 weeks to install.
The alleyway by Good Samaritan Inn could be installed as soon as February 2018, according to city transportation workers.