BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new research study released by Johns Hopkins University says liquor stores are associated with violent crimes in Baltimore City.

WJZ spoke with liquor store owners, who say they are not to blame.

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The researchers looked at the area in which violent crimes were reported and noticed most of the crimes happened within radius of a liquor store. Now they have handed their study over to the city in hopes of influencing the rezoning process.

In a new publication of Urban Health, researchers say neighborhoods with a dense alcohol outlet, such as liquor stores, are behind most of the crime in Baltimore City.

“A neighborhood with an alcohol outlet compared to a similar neighborhood without an alcohol outlet has about a 3.3 percent increase in violent crimes,” said Dr. Jacky Jennings, Johns Hopkins University.

Jennings says alcohol outlets are associated with more than a two percent increase in the number of violent crimes in Baltimore.

But are these crimes happening outside of liquor stores, inside of liquor stores, or a perimeter around the liquor stores?

“That’s a great question. We did not seek to look at that in this study. We just looked at the association,” she said.

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Liquor store owner James Park says the study is not a fair analysis.

“It’s not the sole reason why the crimes are happening in Baltimore City,” he said.

Researchers say they are not using the study to put liquor stores out of business but to hopefully one day decrease the number of alcohol outlets in residential neighborhoods.

“We may not want a child to grow up next to an alcohol outlet if it suggests they may be exposed to violent crime in their lifetime,” Jennings said.

The researchers say they hope during the rezoning process, some liquor stores will be required to move locations.

The study has been submitted to the city, which is currently having work sessions on overhauling the code.

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