Manchester Police view urban design as a response to crime

Oct 3 – A sign or fence here, a light or camera there could help reduce crime in some parts of the city, Manchester Police say.

A recently launched program – Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) – is trying to bring about changes in the design and use of public and private spaces to reduce crime and request the help of the police while improving the quality of community life.

The idea is to use the physical design of spaces to maximize residents’ ability to control criminal behavior nearby. The same design concepts can make it easier for police to monitor activities in the area.

“People have really bought into it and are starting to implement some of the recommendations in the Millyard to reduce some of the issues they were having there,” said Rich Ell, community policing program co-ordinator.

“The city is having us look at the parks, different parts of the city that you know have had issues, whether it’s trespassing or any other potential crime. We’re going to look at it and see if we we can make changes to stop things from happening by changing things.”

CPTED is used across the country, Ell said, by municipalities trying to make better decisions when planning, designing and maintaining areas.

“The theory is that you can make subtle changes or changes to the environment, physical changes, lighting, signs, physical barriers, and you can reduce the possibility of people committing crimes in an area. especially where you’re trying to prevent criminal activity,” says Ell. “He came to the fore because people see he actually produces results.”

This may include adding security cameras, installing better lighting, installing a fence or changing the landscaping. The owner or business owner then decides which recommendations they want to implement, at their own expense.

“It’s a great tool for us in this division,” said Sgt. Emmett Macken of the Department’s Community Affairs Division.

“We get a wide range of calls here from Community Affairs. A woman called me once because she was having trouble reaching her tax preparer,” Macken said.

“So (with CPTED) instead of calling the dispatcher, maybe they call and say someone is cutting in their yard at 2 a.m., and we can have someone look at the changes it can make to discourage this behavior,” Macken said. . “They may not realize it, but put a fence here and put a light here, and that stops the problem.

“When we sit down with people and make suggestions, most of the time the response we get is, ‘Yeah, that makes sense,'” Macken said.

way of the mill

An example of Ell and Macken’s show is a strip of public land running along the Granite Street Bridge near the University of New Hampshire-Manchester campus and The Foundry restaurant patio.

According to Ell, the gravel path along the base of the bridge from a nearby parking lot to the banks of the Merrimack River showed signs of use for criminal behavior including graffiti, vandalism and drug use. .

After surveying the area, Ell’s recommendations for improvement include posting signs such as “no trespassing” or “no loitering” to indicate that the trail is not intended for travel and installing a 6 foot fence or gate with a lock for emergency access.

To deter graffiti, Ell suggests planting thorn bushes along the perimeter of the parking structure and bridge to help limit access to the area.

“Sometimes all it takes is a different perspective on an issue,” Ell said. “Nuisance calls can be avoided perhaps simply by making an area a little more inaccessible.

“If it looks bad, you know people feel that way and feel more free to go in there and maybe do something they shouldn’t be doing.”

Manchester is using nearly $800,000 in US bailout funds for the program, covering improvements to public rights-of-way and city-owned facilities to help neighborhoods with chronic problems with violent crime. The 5-year grant covers salaries and the costs of equipment and personnel.

The most common safety concerns for residents and business owners are people who use drugs in public, appear to have behavioral health issues, show signs of serious mental illness, and become homeless.

Simple changes can help improve safety in an area, but it requires buy-in from everyone involved, Ell said.

“You are only worth the weakest link in the chain,” Ell said. “You can fortify the whole of Millyard, but if there’s one person right in the middle where the problem was happening who doesn’t accept, it doesn’t work.”

“It’s an opportunity to involve the community,” Macken said. “When all of these things come together, it allows people to take ownership of their own region.”

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