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Building neighborhood playground will help reduce crime, Burlington Police say

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BURLINGTON, N.C. -- Burlington Police said a $30,000 investment to build a neighborhood playground will pay off as a crime-fighting tool.

The playground in Beverly Hills is still in the planning stages, but Councilman Steve Ross said his colleagues support it.

"This is such an effort of so many different people. I think this time will be a little different. This won't be repeating history," Ross said.

The neighborhood has one of the city's highest crime rates, but Burlington Police have been trying to build trust among neighbors since November. They have added speed humps on Center Avenue and added bike patrols.

The result: arrests cut in half and calls for service down 11 percent. That's not only true for Beverly Hills but also two other high-crime neighborhoods.

"Believe me, they have made a difference," said resident George Hill of the recently added police presence.

"The majority of arrests we've made have been off of community complaints," said Burlington Police Officer Winston Meadows.

Meadows said the playground will help reduce crime by giving children something else to do.

"Idle hands are the devil's playground. If you're sitting at home with nothing to do, you start getting into stuff," Meadows said.

Hill has been trying to get a playground built in the neighborhood for years, because he said it's not safe.

"Kids are darting out in front of cars and all, and we really don't want to see a young child get hit," Hill said.

The playground is at least 6-9 months away, Ross said. Police said they hope neighbors will get involved in putting it up it as a way to keep building trust.