Last summer, I attended a weeklong course at the UMass Police Department on “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design,” often referred to by the acronym “CPTED,” a crime prevention theory that changes to the built environment can lead to a reduction in the fear of crime as well as an improvement in the quality of life. CPTED works by decreasing the ability to commit crime and increasing the chances that crime will be seen. CPTED goes beyond traditional security methods by naturally integrating security measures into the community to enhance quality of life, decrease fear of crime, and discourage crime.
This year, I’ve applied those CPTED lessons to number of projects in town. With the Amherst and UMass police departments, property managers and other partners, I have conducted CPTED reviews for local businesses, neighborhoods, and residential areas, with the goal of increasing safety for everyone. I also partnered with Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tim O’Brien to produce a video introducing CPTED concepts to area businesses.
These CPTED efforts have effectively brought together diverse groups of stakeholders to seek practical improvements. Wendy Jones Boisseau of Jones Properties, lp, who participated in a survey of one of her managed properties, observed that the CPTED review “has been extremely useful in illustrating how the environment can and does shape behaviors and provided the opportunity for us to collaborate with UMass Police Department, the Amherst Police Department, UMass Dean of Students, and UMass Transportation Services to better serve our tenants, our communities, and our town.”
Although the local implementation of a CPTED approach is in the early stages, it offers a promising way to deter crime and increase safety. The recent CPTED projects are particularly gratifying for me as they embody many of the values that I strive for in my work for the university: improved communication and relationships, creativity, and stronger ties to the community.