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Hikers passing under the bridge along East Plum Creek Trail near the railroad tracks in Castle Rock have probably noticed the underpass has been painted with a nature-themed mural. Under the bridge near Douglas County High School, another mural shows off Huskies school spirit.
The artwork is part of an effort by Castle Rock police called Art Around the Rock. The goal is to paint murals on all of the town's dozen bridge underpasses to help make a more beautiful trail system and to help deter crime, such as graffiti.
The idea is part law enforcement science and part creativity. Officially called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, the theory is that police officers, planners, architects and the community can work together to prevent crime at the start of a project. By creating something that positively impacts human behavior — such as painting murals on bridges — crime can be deterred.
“It gives people the impression that someone is watching them, which is a good thing. It cuts down on crime,” said officer Seth Morrissey, who is leading the project.
Morrissey said he took a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design course where he learned how art had been used a crime deterrent in cities like Detroit and Baltimore.
“Every spring we get calls about graffiti popping up around town and we'll send someone out to clean it up within 24-48 hours,” Morrissey said. “So I thought about it and said, `What if we took that idea of using art to help clean up those cities and we applied it to our trail system?'”
Morrissey said that the trail system is a popular target for graffiti because many students walk the trails each day to school. He added that the murals make for a more inviting place to walk.
Art Around the Rock began in May. Local artists Janene DiRico-Cable, Kim McKie and Rosie Lonhert created the nature mural. Members of the nonprofit DC Proud DC Strong, which works to prevent teen suicide, painted the bridge near Douglas County High School.
More than two dozen volunteers have contributed 250 hours to the two projects. The next project is the Perry Street bridge in downtown Castle Rock. Morrissey said they have also been talking to Castle Rock Adventist Hospital about a future project.
To view a slideshow of pictures, visit CRgov.com/PDmurals.
Ideas for mural artwork go through an approval process. The program not only needs artists, but also supplies and volunteers. Individuals or groups interested in helping with Art Around the Rock can contact Morrissey at 303-663-6153.
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