How does planning and community design contribute to a reduction in gun violence? Glad you asked.
We know that we can design communities to make people healthier. It also works to reduce violence and crime. The National Crime Prevention Council has a program called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) which is based on the principle that proper design and and effective use of buildings and public spaces in neighborhoods leads to a reduction in the fear and incidence of crime. It also improves the quality of life for citizens in those communities.
How does it work?
The Council published a brief titled Best Practices for Using Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design in Weed and Seed Sites. The strategies used the four principles of CPTED:
- access control – designing streets, sidewalks, building entrances, and neighborhood gateways to clearly show the transition from the public environment to semi-private and private ares
- surveillance – maximizes the visibility of people, parking areas, vehicles, and site activities; involves the strategic placement of windows, doors, walkways, and parking lots and vehicular routes
- territorial reinforcement – sidewalks, landscaping, and porches help define public and private areas; helps display signs of ownership that deters would-be offenders
- maintenance – addresses the management and maintenance of space; includes:
- proper upkeep (landscaping, trash pick-up, repairing broken windows and light fixtures and painting over graffiti)
- signals that property and areas are cared for and inhospitable to criminal activity
- signals that property owners are watching out for the property and could spot illegal behavior or activities
Where was it implemented?
The CPTED training and technical assistance service was delivered to the following site communities:
- Dallas, TX
- Manchester, NH
- Montgomery, AL
- North Charleston, SC
- North Omaha, NE
- Omaha, NE
- Rome, NY
- Schenectady, NY
- Troy, NY
- Washington, DC
Each community was unique, but they shared many similarities. Abandoned homes, faulty traffic flow, difficulty securing total surveillance, overgrowth of foliage, vacant lots, absentee landlords, complex and difficult to enforce laws and regulations, and inadequate street lighting were the common problems shared among these communities. Criminal activity such as drug dealing, substance abuse, burglaries, violent assaults, and prostitution were prevalent crimes that the communities hoped to significantly reduce.
To learn more, visit the National Crime Prevention Council webpage. Safe Routes to Schools has a similar program titled Taking Back the Streets and Sidewalks, focused on how Safe Routes to Schools combined with community safety initiatives can reduce violence and crime.