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Police Prevent Crime With Environmental Design

NORTH MIAMI (CBS4) - Can a community's layout and environmental design prevent crime? South Florida law enforcement think it's worth a shot.

On Wednesday the City of North Miami Beach held an eight-hour training in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) for 50 police officers from across South Florida.

The CPTED is a program inspired by the Broken Windows theory introduced by social scientists in 1982. The theory claims that monitoring and maintaining urban environments in neat order may help to protect a community and could potentially prevent crimes.

One goal of the program, which is also referred to as policing by environmental design, is to take away places for criminals to lurk and also to make it difficult for them to hide once they've been caught in the act.

"Think safer by design," said officer Ernest Long of the Aventura Police Department.

Crime prevention specialist Kerri Pallotto with the Broward Sheriff's office inspected a church in North Miami Beach along with other specialists.

"The bushes here are low," said Pallotto, "And it's great that they have the windows open so that they are able to detect if anyone is in the parking lot here and want to commit a crime to one of the vehicles."

According to the CPTED, the fight against crime is not only a job for law enforcement officials but architects, landscape and interior designers, city planners, and resident volunteers can join in to help keep neighborhoods safe.

"For many, many years architects have never even considered the design of the facility for crime prevention," said Chief Police Tom Carney of North Miami Beach. "And what we see is that the facility is designed a certain way and it looks really great, but six months later you have a major crime problem."

Case studies have shown that the smallest changes have had tremendous impact.

"They've done it and crime has gone away," said Pallotto. "Not just subsided, it just totally goes away."

With the training, police are hoping they can help communities throughout South Florida prevent crime and deter criminals.

Whether you are a homeowner or a business owner, a free inspection from crime prevention specialists is just a phone call away.

"Free of charge," said Pallotto, "We come out."

Prevention specialists will analyze your property and make a spreadsheet of all the strengths and weaknesses. The fixes are often as simple as adding more light and trimming bushes.

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