Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Crime prevention through environmental design and repeated burglaries at the Naylor Gardens apartment complex

Ground floor apartment at Naylor Gardens.  Washington Post photo by Clarence Williams.

CPTED is a longstanding practice that addresses architectural and environmental design factors that may, if unchecked, contribute to crime.  The Washington Post has a piece, "Burglaries leave apartment residents uneasy in Southeast Washington," about repeated burglaries at the Naylor Gardens apartment complex in Southeast DC ("Southeast Complex Survives as Cooperative)," Post, 2004).

From the article:
At Naylor Gardens, small bands of burglars have struck 18 times across the sprawling, 43-acre complex this year, according to the property’s management office.

The burglars target ground-floor apartments with unlocked windows or air conditioning units. They have even pulled out window frames to slip in and steal computers, televisions and other electronics.

Property manager Alesia Johnson said the burglaries, coupled with a rash of daylight muggings at nearby bus stops last year, led dozens of residents to leave Naylor Gardens.

“We have lost 50 tenants. We normally stay 100 percent occupied,” Johnson said in a recent interview. “It seems a lot of people feel unsafe.”
I don't know how the police department is set up, but there being 18 burglaries of ground floor apartments ought to be triggering a systematic response by the Metropolitan Police Department, and in fact they claim that it is (see "District police embrace crime prevention through design," a 2012 article in the Post) and the apartment complex, which spends more than $500,000 on security annually.

-- Architecture as Crime Control
-- Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design
-- National Center for Community Policing
-- National Crime Prevention Council

The photo in the article shows that the ground floor apartments don't have security bars.  Clearly they need them. 

DC should probably require security management plans for apartment buildings and complexes of a certain size, and reviews and responses should be required in situations like these. 

Naylor Gardens has 796 apartments over 43 acres, so they'd definitely have to meet such a requirement were it to exist.  Maybe because they are a cooperative they are a bit out of their depth on this issue.

In the meantime, the MPD needs to step up.

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