If you find yourself in the Country Forest/Jackson Meadow or Woodbridge neighborhoods of Lake Highlands — or shopping at Aldi or DD’s Discounts on Forest Lane — on a given afternoon, you are likely to hear the sounds of Beethoven, Mozart or Strauss wafting through the air.
Follow the music; it is emanating from an unlikely source — the EZ Mart convenience store, known dealer and prostitute hangout and the site of several violent crimes over the years. Used to be, any music coming from that property usually emitted from loitering vehicles and involved anything with enough bass to rattle the take-out window at Big Mama’s Chicken and Waffles across the street. But no more.
The EZ Mart started blasting classical music as part of a police, merchant and landowner collaboration to combat crime. Turns out, this is a thing. Pumping classical music into public venues is a tactic that has been used by cities all over the world to deter loitering. Some municipalities have even tried to force public transit stations to employ the so-called “classical music strategy.”
Deputy Chief Andrew Acord says EZ Mart has been using classical music as a tool to reduce issues related to loitering, drug dealing and prostitution.
“The tactic doesn’t fix all the problems, but it does have an impact,” Acord says.
This police program, officially, “forges vested partnerships with cooperative property owners to combat common and public nuisances.”
In other words, Acord says, “it’s where we hold property owners’ feet to the fire to ensure they are doing everything in their power to discourage crime.”
Since the drive-by, the property has had very few calls related to serious crime, Acord says, “only a couple of abatable calls — meaning violent-crime calls.”
The troublemakers aren’t the only ones who seemingly wish to avoid classical music; some of my neighbors in Woodbridge find it annoying. But other say they sit out on their porches and enjoy it.