Safer by Design: Princina Brown-Thomas recently presented to District property managers about crime prevention through environmental design.
While many discussions about crime focus on arrest and punishment rather than prevention, the Houston Police Department’s CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) program seeks to reduce opportunities for crime by applying design principles that make it more difficult to carry out inappropriate activities.
Don McKinney, Westchase District’s vice president of public safety, recently hosted a Public Safety Alliance luncheon for apartment, hotel and office property managers to learn about how they can reduce criminal activity through effective use of their existing environments.
At the luncheon, Princina Brown-Thomas, HPD’s citywide CPTED coordinator, said that Houston’s historically-loose zoning laws don’t mandate CPTED principles at properties’ design and planning stages. “Fortunately, many design issues can be corrected relatively inexpensively,” she said. “Removing those potential problems that may invite crime can greatly improve the quality of life for residents and workers.”
Brown-Thomas outlined five CPTED key concepts:
- Natural Surveillance – Use appropriate and uniform lighting to maximize visibility. Plant low-growing shrubs and use see-through fencing to allow clear, unobstructed views.
- Natural Access Control – Use fencing or landscaping to prevent or discourage access to unmonitored areas. Limit the number of entry/exit points into a building. Install mechanical or electronic locks.
- Territorial Reinforcement – Express pride and ownership of your space by clearly delineating your space with landscaping, fencing, signage, flags, artwork and seating.
- Activity Support – Centrally locate fitness centers, playgrounds and pools and schedule regular events in those areas so that individuals may become part of a property’s natural surveillance.
- Maintenance – Neglected properties are breeding grounds for criminal activity. No maintenance implies no one cares what happens there. Immediately remove or paint over graffiti and do not allow trash or debris to accumulate.
HPD provides free CPTED assessments to citizens within the city of Houston. For more information, contact Princina Brown-Thomas at 713-308-3200.