SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Sac State students are helping Sacramento County reduce crime and improve the quality of life in some lower-income neighborhoods.

Today their work was even recognized by the county who hopes to use the research to determine areas most in need. A group of geography department students were asked by the county to help them come up with a plan to improve the quality of life in some lower income neighborhoods. And they delivered some bright ideas.

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“There’s a fear of the unknown that happens in dark places,” said student Arlette Marenco.

Marenco is helping shed some light on where and why crime happens in certain Sacramento neighborhoods.

“The majority of the crimes, as you can kinda just see, happen on the edges or outside of most of these lights, the buffer zone of lights,” she said.

Marenco used her senior geography project to look at crime patterns in some tougher Sacramento County neighborhoods and discovered a connection to the frequency and severity of crimes to the amount of street lights in the area.

“She produced maps that showed the density of crimes throughout the neighborhood and the locations of individual street lamps with estimated distances that were adequately lit,” said Matt Schmidtlein, associate professor of geography at Sac State.

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Marenco’s research even showed when more lights were installed in dangerous areas, crime was cut in half.

“You can see either it dissipated more or less completely, or crime actually shifted,” she said.

“It’s my honor to present these resolutions recognizing students and faculty in the department of geography at Sacramento State for their great work,” said Sacramento County District 1 Supervisor Phil Serna.

On Tuesday, county supervisors recognized the work and hope to use the data to target and improve areas in need. Doing so will help make the entire community safer.

“Those studies can inform decisions about where to spend money,” said Robin Datel, professor of geography at Sac State. “I think we want a good quality of life for everyone, no matter what their income or ethnicity is; and nobody should be subject to an unsafe neighborhood.”

Other students with the project also compiled research that can help the county determine areas most in need of community health clinics and grocery stores.

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Sac State’s geography department hope the research will allow them to be involved in future efforts with the county.