In D.C., Crime Prevention Starts at the Drafting Table

What's a better way to ensure lower crime than to involve police directly in the planning process? One development in Washington, D.C. will do just that.

Following last week's post on Washington, D.C.'s new waterfront development, called the Wharf, The Washington Post's Peter Hermann reports on the inventive idea to prevent crime by directly involving the District's Metropolitan Police Department in the project's planning and design process.

"Police have long sought to promote public safety through design," says Hermann, "encouraging such common-sense features as bright streetlights, discouraging secluded footpaths and laying out roads to make it difficult to circle a block...In Los Angeles, police encourage gardeners to plant blackberry bushes because the spiny branches are hard for burglars to crawl through. Seattle police urge bank managers to trim hedges so that the front door is visible from the street. And in San Diego, police warn against street planters that, while visually appealing, might clog sidewalks if used as stools."

In Washington, D.C., the effort goes a step further, by involving law enforcement in the design process. "The process is informal, with the department reaching out to developers of major initiatives to request a seat at the table. When developers agree, [Police Chief Cathy] Lanier says, police can contribute while changes can still be made with the stroke of a pen instead of the rumble of a bulldozer."

Full Story: District police embrace concept of preventing crime through design


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