Environmental Design Crime Prevention Gains


Charlotte police reduced robberies by having a bus stop moved from a dangerous location, the Charlotte Observer reports. Across the city, police are making subtle and not-so-subtle changes to stores, streets, and landscapes in an attempt to prevent crime. It’s part of an environmental policing trend that’s gaining steam across the U.S., and Charlotte believe it’s already working. “It’s becoming a part of every crime prevention initiative in North America,” said Barry Davidson, of the International Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Institute, the clearinghouse for environmental policing techniques. Environmental design “principles and strategies are so common-sense that you’re hard-pressed not to see that they work.”

Among other things, the nearly 50-year-old policing discipline seeks to deter crime by increasing a criminal’s perception that he will get caught. An open, lit section of sidewalk, the theory goes, is better than a dark one surrounded by shrubs. It’s a slight evolution in the role of police officers, who say they’ve gone from simply responding to crime to working with stakeholders and other government agencies to prevent it. “If you want to be an all-around police officer, now part of your job is to see those issues and present those issues to the right people to get them fixed,” said Sgt. Ken Schul, who worked on the bus stop change.

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