Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

What is  Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)

In a nutshell Crime prevention through environmental design is a multi-disciplinary approach to deterring criminal behavior through environmental design.  CPTED strategies rely upon the ability to influence offender decisions that precede criminal acts.  As opposed to target hardening which makes it more difficult to commit crimes such as break-ins, CPTED attempts to deter criminals from even picking a target in a particular area.  It is premised on the theory that criminals make rational choices and that if the cost (chance of getting caught) are great enough criminals will not commit the crime.

CPTED is a multi-faceted approach but two of the tactics it employs in relation to neighborhoods are:

  1. minimize the number of entry and exit points on a block; and
  2. design roadways to discourage through-traffic.

Couple those two tactics with a barrier around a neighborhood and you have an excellent recipe for crime prevention.

It is theories, based on CPTED principles,  that led developers to come up with the gated community concept.

What follows are  three examples of naturally occurring crime prevention measures, namely a river surrounding  a community with a limited number of entrances and exits and roadways that discourage and in some cases eliminate through traffic that clearly demonstrate that the design of communities has a lot to do with the prevalence or lack of crime.

All the screenshots in this post were taken from the City of Winnipeg Crimestat website and depict reported crime for the offences reported on Crimestat for the period between January 1, 2015 and December 10, 2015.   The screen shots were taken on December 8th, 2015.

 

This first screen shot shows the Armstrong Point community in downtown Winnipeg which had 3 reported crimes:

 

2015-12-10 (1)

 

 

This screen shots show the West Broadway Community which is immediately adjacent to Armstrong Point.  West Broadway had 114 reported Crimes.

2015-12-10 (4)

 

 

This shot shows the Wildewood Park Community with 4 reported crimes:

2015-12-10 (3)

The adjacent community of Crescent Park reported 34 crimes:

2015-12-10 (5)

 

The  Kingston Crescent Community with 3 reported crimes:

 

2015-12-11

 

Lastly, the Elm Park community adjacent to Kingston Crescent,  24 reported crimes:

 

2015-12-11 (1)

 

I think the screen shots and the number of crimes they depict make the argument.  If you have a barrier, in this case a natural barrier such as a river surrounding a community with limited points of entry and egress and a lack of through traffic, criminals are deterred from committing crimes in those areas.  This is not a fluke.  I have been tracking these communities for years and the results are the same or very similar year after year.

Some small enclaves in newly developed residential areas such as Waverly West embody limited CPTED principles either consciously or by default.  It is unfortunate that CPTED principles are not applied  across the board in new developments.  Neighbourhoods designed and laid out based on CPTED principles would be a boon to the residents living in those neighbourhoods, as well as the Police Service in terms of a dramatic reduction in crime and the resulting calls for  service.  A crime that is prevented requires no followup or investigation.

 

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Don’t Like the Gurkha, so sell it.

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I have observed the discussion about the Winnipeg Police purchase of the Gurkha armoured vehicle with both amusement and concern:  Amusement because all the usual suspects, those being sociologists, and the media have  neatly filed into place and have said exactly what they would be expected to say:

1) that this is another step forward in the militarization of the police;

2) that  the process was flawed and lacked public input and transparency;

3) that  the Police Service pulled a fast one on the Police Board;

4) that the operational need for an armoured vehicle has not been justified;

5) that it is too costly.

 

And concern, because the Police Service has done a poor job of providing background information and justification for the purchase.

One might ask the question: Where were all these people who have concerns about militarization and costs  when the Police Service launched its air force?

I agree that in a day and age where Police Boards provide oversight of police departments, the process used to acquire this piece of equipment was perhaps less than politically astute.  The result is that the Police Service has lost the ability to make purchases of this type in the future.

As well, I have yet to hear any really sound arguments being made by the Police Service other than in general terms as to how this piece of equipment will add value.  The Police Service was probably caught flat-footed on this one because they had no intention of this becoming a public discussion at this point in time.  There probably is a communications strategy in the process of being developed to deal with this issue and justify the purchase but I’m surmising it was not intended to be used until some point in the future, so it was not fully developed and ready to go at this point in time.  They should however have anticipated that the purchase of an item such as the Gurhka could not be kept under wraps indefinitely and been better prepared to deal with it when the information became public.

All that being said the question remains, can this purchase be justified as an operational need?

As a former police officer, I am personally aware of discussions for the need of an armoured vehicle that go back 30 years – long before ‘militarization’ had become a buzz word.  The situation that gave rise to the discussions was an armed and barricaded scenario in St. Boniface where a man shot his entire family and then barricaded himself in a house, armed.  Police were faced with a situation where a young child had been shot but was still alive, laying in the front yard with no means to safely perform a rescue.  Since that  incident there have been many others, perhaps not as dramatic but still of a nature where some form of armoured vehicle would have served a very useful purpose.

I would suggest that if the Police Service scratch its collective memory they could provide a long list of scenarios that would justify the need for an armoured vehicle even in the minds of the most jaded opponents.

In terms of cost, although $350,000.00 seems like a big number when amortized over the predicated useful life of such a purchase, it amounts to less than $20,000.00 a year.

Deployment

Although I personally do not support carte blanche  militarization of policing I do support the purchase of military type equipment in situations where the need can be justified for operational reasons.The devil as always  will be in the details.  The manner in which this piece of equipment will be deployed will show the intent of the Police Service and could go a long way to silence the critics.  If it is rolled out willy nilly, however, the police will run the risk of losing public support.  It should be used in situations where its use can be operationally justified.

Political Will

If this is really seen by the Police Board, the Mayor, or City Councillors as an example of the police overstepping their authority and acquiring a piece of equipment that either the police don’t need or that they philosophically disagree with, let them step forward and justify their position and then sell the damn thing (I dare you).  There is a market out there for these types of vehicles.

 

 

Surviving an Active Shooter Situation

 

 

Q  What is an active shooter?

A  The traditional definition of an active shooter makes reference to an individual(s) actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people usually  in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms and the selection of victims has been largely random.  More recently, terrorists (such as those in the Paris incident) have employed the active shooter strategy to kill and spread  terror in the larger population of persons seen as opposed to their views or philosophy.

The recent killing spree by Syed Farook, 28, and his wife Tashfeen Malik, in San Bernadino California which resulted in 14 people being killed and 21 injured, is at best, an example of an active shooter scenario with terrorist undertones, and at worst, an outright act of  terrorism.

Although Canada, to this point, has been largely spared from these types of incidents, according to Mass Shooting Tracker there have been 336 incidents in 2015 so far in the United States where four or more people were injured by gunfire, many fatally.

It would be naive to think that it cannot and will not happen in Canada at some point.

Active shooter situations offer a unique challenge for police.  In a hostage taking scenario, for example, the passage of time is considered an ally but in the active shooter situation, time becomes the enemy as active shooters strike quickly.  In these types of situations, therefore, many people are killed before police are even alerted.  Quick  response and action must be the hallmark of the police response to these types of devastating incidents.

The problem is that by the time police become engaged in an active shooter incident, in most cases a large number of people have already been murdered.

Active shooter situations are usually resolved or ended only when police neutralize the threat by killing the shooter(s), or  the shooter(s)  commit suicide or in the case of  case of Islamic terrorist, martyr themselves for their cause.

 

The Situation in Canada

Canadian police agencies have undertaken training to deal with  active shooter scenarios but they have limited experience to fall back on.  It is inevitable that at some point an active shooter scenario, possibly terrorist based or motivated, will occur in Canada, regardless of the amount of fairy dust our current government sprinkles on the threat of terrorism in Canada.

If our government persists in not taking the terrorist threat seriously it is incumbent on citizens to be prepared to act individually in order to prepare and protect themselves.

What follows is a list of common sense approaches that can be taken by people caught in an active shooter scenario to attempt to protect themselves and increase the odds of survival.

 

Be vigilant and have a plan

Although it is impossible to accurately anticipate where an active shooter situation might occur, experience has taught us that they usually occur in situations or locations where people congregate: malls, theaters, restaurants, sporting events and the like.  The Paris  terrorist attacks which focused on a rock concert, restaurants, and a football stadium emphasize the point.  The Paris attacks also further demonstrate that active shooters tend to target and are most effective when they select locations where there is little if any security.  In the Paris example the the rock concert and restaurant scenarios resulted in large numbers of deaths while the football stadium which had perimeter security did not.

At a very minimum: be aware of your surroundings; know where the exits are located; be alert to what is happening around you.  Based on past experience we all have a sense of what constitutes normal behavior.  If you see something out of the ordinary go to a heightened level of alert.

In any situation where you could be at risk, know ahead of time what you will do if confronted by an active shooter.  For example, if you are in a mall or another public venue and you hear what sounds like gunshots where there should be no gunshots, do not hang around to see what is happening, wondering what you should do.  Have a plan and be ready to act.

The fight or flight response

1  Once you come to the conclusion that what is happening may be a threat to you, immediately leave the area, heading in the opposite direction from where the threat is.  Don’t rubber neck to see what is happening.  Encourage others around you to leave as well but don’t waste time getting into discussions with people as to whether you should leave.  Just leave, get as far away from the threat as possible, as quickly as possible.  As soon as it is safe to do so, contact 911 and alert the authorities to what is happening.

3  If the threat is between you and your avenue of escape, hide.  Find the most secure place possible such as a room with a door that can be locked.  If you can hide in a room use whatever there is in the room to erect a barricade in front of the door and identify anything within the room that could serve as a weapon in the event the shooter breaches the door.  Stay away from windows and turn out the lights.  Turn off your cell phone.  The last thing you want is a phone going off to attract attention to your location.

4  If no rooms are available, improvise, hide in a closet.  As a last resort if there is no physical place to hide, take cover – that is, put something between your self and the shooter that will provide some level of protection.  If no cover is available try to conceal yourself so that the shooter cannot see you.

3  Lastly, if fleeing or hiding are not options be prepared to fight  back.  Don’t take unnecessary risks but if you are caught in a situation where there is a high likelihood you will be shot if you do nothing, then act.  Any action you are able to take to injure or incapacitate the shooter increases your odds as wells as those of others.  Although taking on a shooter with a gun may be out of character for you, it may save your life.  If you take that step, then act quickly and act violently.

 

Good information sources

United Sates Department of Homeland Security   

The Art of Manliness

 

 

 

 

The Pro and Cons of the Four Ten (4/10) Shift Schedule

Since I first wrote a post about the 4/10 shift schedule back in 2011 there has been  a steady stream of views on that particular post.

That caused me to review the post and write a  follow-up  to address a few issues left unsaid.

Although the original post clearly laid out the parameters of such a shift schedule it was somewhat light on the pros and cons of such a schedule.

Most police departments that adopt some form of compressed work week do so through the collective bargaining process or at least discussions between unions and management.  Most unions see great benefit to their members that accrue from a compressed work week. There are also some benefits for the employer.

 

Pros for employees:

  1. Although the total number of hours worked is the same under the 8 hour and the 4/10 shift schedules, the actual numbers of days employees are required to come to work is dramatically reduced (up to 52 less days per year) under the 4/10 schedule.
  2. Due to the fewer number of days employees are required to come to work there is an approximate 20% saving in work related traveling cost.
  3. The ability to arrange for longer periods of work absence (12-14 days  by using only 40-50 hours of accumulated holiday leave).
  4. Ability to extend periods of days off by using accumulated banked time in conjunction with regular days off.
  5. Fewer shifts worked on weekends (Saturday-Sunday).
  6. Greater ability to get additional time off (on overlap days).

Cons for employees

1.Fatigue due to length of shift, especially if the regular shift is followed by overtime.

Pro for employers

  1.  The biggest advantage the compressed work week offers for employers is the ability to overlap shifts.  This is especially pertinent to organizations such as police departments that in many instances have peak hours in terms of call for service or other needs in terms of boosting police presence during specific hours.  The overlap creates the ability to significantly increase manpower (person power to be politically correct) without incurring costly overtime which results from call-outs.
  2. Most larger organizations have ongoing training requirements such as firearm qualification, first aid training and regularly mandated in-service training to retain professional certification.  Training tends to be pushed to the back burner when thing are hectic and the overlap days generated under a compressed work week schedule can assist in ensuring training time is available again without the need to incur overtime.
  3. The availability of  a large pool of resources to conduct planned  special patrols, special operations or projects on overlap days.
  4. In the case of employees who have built up excessive hours in their accumulated bank the employers can reduce such banks by giving employees days off on overlap days in keeping with operational needs.

Cons For Employers

  1.  The greatest issue for employers centers around the division of the workforce into two distinct platoons.  It is akin to creating two separate and distinct organizations who only rarely see each other or work together.  The issue is one of communication between the two platoons especially as it relates to complex ongoing investigations.  If an investigation is being handled by ‘A’ Platoon and the entire platoon goes on 4 days off, things can easily fall between the cracks unless adequate processes are in place to ensure communication and continuity.
  2. Some police executives have also noticed the development of separate and distinct cultures within platoons.
  3. If work schedules have been negotiated and embedded in the Collective Agreement, flexibility is limited and generally changes can only be sought during the collective bargaining process.
  4. Overlap shifts require additional expenditures for  equipment (cars, radios) which will be utilized during the overlap period but sit unused for many hours each day.

 

Welcome to Golf In My Kingdom

I’ve been writing the Policing Politics and Public Policy blog since 2009.  This fall I decided to start-up a new blog that deals with a totally different subject mater, golf.

I will be adding a number of posts throughout the winter that cover with a variety of golf related topics that I hope will be of interest to golfers in Winnipeg and elsewhere.

If you have an interest in golf, have a look.  The new blog is titled Golf in My Kingdom

 

1 866-840-5837 Part II

On Monday December 22nd 2014 some 20 months after creating the Fraud and Waste Hotline the City of Winnipeg Published the following communique:

 

 

For Immediate Release

Monday, December 22, 2014

 

Fraud & Waste Hotline

 

Recognize it. Report it.

 

Winnipeg, MB – The City of Winnipeg’s webpage has been updated to provide information and access to the Fraud & Waste Hotline. The Hotline is available to all citizens as a convenient and confidential way to report any observed or suspected fraud, theft or misuse involving City resources. Reports should be about a specific incident and should, to the extent possible, include the – “who, what, when and where.”

 

The Fraud & Waste Hotline is operated by an independent third party under contract with the Audit Department and is accessible by phone or internet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To report an incident of suspected fraud or other inappropriate activity, please visit the Fraud & Waste Hotline online at clearviewconnects.com or by telephone at 1-866-840-5837. Information in reports can only be accessed by the Audit Department.

 

Additional information is available at City of Winnipeg – Audit Department.

 

There is no indication at this point that the City has taken any steps to internally publish the other Hotline number,  1 877-319-5186, which is intended for use by civic employees.

Although the City should be applauded for finally doing the right thing in terms of informing the public about the Fraud and Waste Hotline, they now need to address the other half of the equation which is to provide education and training to civic employees in terms of what constitutes fraud and waste.  As well, they need to  ensure that everyone understands that  as employees they are under an obligation to report matters that are contrary to the best interests of the City.

Lastly, the City needs to introduce meaningful protection for employees who in good faith bring to the attention of the City for the purposes of investigation any instances of fraud or waste.  Internal reporting of wrongdoing is a very difficult scenario and unless guarantees of protection exist employees will not come forward with such information.

If the City is serious about addressing the issue of fraud and waste it needs to enact whistle blower legislation to protect employees who come forward and report instances of fraud and waste.  The half hearted approach outlined in Administrative Directive HR 008 is grossly inadequate and sends the wrong message to employees.