IU study finds more liquor stores cause higher violent crime rates

IU criminologist William Pridemore and IU geographer Tony Grubesic recently conducted a study on the relationship between alcohol sales and assault in communities.

The duo combined information from alcohol licensing boards and police reports in Cincinnati, Ohio, for their research. The data focused on several groups, termed “block groups,” of close to 1,000 people living near locations containing bars, restaurants and convenient stores that sell alcohol.

Results showed the block groups that contained convenient stores or outlets where consumers could purchase carry-out alcohol showed an increase of 2.3 simple assaults and 0.6 aggravated assaults per square mile. On the other hand, areas near bars only showed an increase of 1.4 simple assaults with no change in the amount of aggravated assaults.

Pridemore has yet to test the reasons why this seems to occur but said he thinks “social control” might be a factor.

“Bars usually have management, bouncers and bystanders that can step in before anything too serious happens,” Pridemore said. “Off-site outlets don’t have that.”
Pridemore and Grubesic currently have a graduate student looking into various characteristics of the places studied so they can further understand their

Pridemore said they have considered variables such as poverty, unemployment and percent of young males in a “block group.”

The two professors conducted the study for their own scientific benefit, but they said other groups could take interest in their findings.

According to the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, the number of alcohol sales licenses issued are based on population of the area. Pridemore and Grubesic said they plan to conduct similar studies to see if there are similar trends in other cities.

Interim Chief of the IU Police Department Jerry Minger said he found the study interesting but did not see anything in Bloomington to lead him to the same conclusion.

“The demographic and economic strata of Cincinnati is totally different than Bloomington,” Minger said. “I haven’t seen anything that would make me to believe one way or the other.”

Minger said alcohol can affect people’s decision making, but it’s not the only thing causing the action.

“There are so many factors that are involved in violence,” Minger said. “It could be something like a domestic problem or a hate crime and have not anything to do with alcohol.”

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