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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UNC: Closing Liquor Stores in Baltimore’s Residential Neighborhoods Could Prevent 22 Homicides, Save $27.5M Each Year

In the wake of the implementation of TransForm Baltimore, which included provisions to remove liquor stores from Baltimore’s residential neighborhoods, new research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Johns Hopkins University shows that closing 80 of these liquor stores could prevent 22 homicides and save $27.5 million each year.

Studies consistently have found a relationship between the number and concentration of alcohol outlets and violent crime, both across the country and in Baltimore City. However, this is the first study to predict specific outcomes linked with possible zoning options for alcohol outlets in Baltimore.

Researchers compared three potential policies: an across-the-board reduction of alcohol outlets throughout the city (decreasing the number of outlets by roughly 20 percent); closing 80 non-conforming liquor stores (that is, those in residential neighborhoods); or closing the 117 taverns not operating in compliance with the city liquor board’s definition of a tavern. A fourth option estimated the impact of closing both the 80 non-conforming liquor stores and the 117 taverns simultaneously.

Of the four policies examined, a 20 percent city-wide reduction of alcohol outlets was associated with a reduction of 51 homicides in one year. Closing the 80 non-conforming liquor stores was associated with a decrease of 22 homicides in the same time period. Closing the “sham” bars/taverns had the smallest impact, resulting in one fewer homicide.

“Our study suggests that addressing the glut of liquor stores can prevent homicides and other violent crimes,” said lead author Dr. Pamela Trangenstein, assistant professor of health behavior at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health.

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