What is CEPTED? It is “crime prevention through environmental design.” A way of conducting business that gained acceptance in most of the civilized world in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. It’s a concept of designing and taking advantage of strategic thinking in constructing new buildings and homes and remodeling existing structures.

For example: planting trees and shrubs that allow for the observation of windows and access points but still provides an aesthetic presentation to a property; the avoidance of screening of public places such as parks and parking locations that does not allow public observation to prevent property damage and personal assaults.

The concept takes advantage of the public to help discourage criminal activity. The concept is extended further to what is called “target hardening.” This technique is based on the principle that the longer and louder it takes to gain access to a location or the higher the chance of being discovered by a police officer or passerby, the less likely it will be that would-be thief or attacker will strike at that location. I would add the caveat; however, that locks and deterrence devices don’t work when they aren’t locked or activated.

The past few years have challenged those of us who subscribe to CEPTED with the trend moving toward historical preservation and the public’s desire for more and more privacy, even in traditionally public space. The concerns about “light pollution” have also often run contrary to sufficient lighting to provide adequate deterrence to criminal activity.

It will be interesting to watch the next few years, internationally, as designers work to meet the needs and desires of the public while still working to deter crime and promote personal safety.

Our crime prevention officers use many of the CEPTED and target hardening tools when providing free security assessments of your home or business. Northfield residents may schedule an appointment with Officer Jody Spinner or call her at 507-645-4477. For owners of multi-unit dwellings, we offer the Crime-Free Multi-Housing Program. This program is designed for residences with multiple units.

About Gary Smith

Chief Smith has served over 31 years in the criminal justice field. He is currently a consultant assisting public and private organizations better establish community goals and ethical conduct with the members of their organizations. Chief Smith serves as a facilitator, lecturer, professor and other capacities both inside and outside the criminal justice field.
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