Kneehill County is encouraging residents to take a proactive approach to crime reduction by looking at deterrence through design.
Kneehill County Protective services have introduced Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED).
For me, my position is focused on rural crime prevention. With all the rural crime, we want a way to help the community deter it rather than watch it happen,” said peace officer Brandon Rempel.
He explains CPTED has been around for a few years and is effective. It is looking at the physical designs of an environment to reduce the opportunity for crime to occur.
It has four principles. One is natural surveillance, meaning making sure there is a clear and unobstructed view, Territorial reinforcement such as fencing, gates and signage, making sure a property is maintained and does not look abandoned and access control.
Rempel says one of the simple things a property owner can do is trimming trees.
“If no one can see in if they drive by, you can’t see if someone is in there, breaking in. So it is a very easy thing to deal with and can be overlooked,” he said.
Other strategies that support CPTED include hardening the target, such as surveillance cameras, door security and neighbourhood watch programs. Often one of the easiest and most effective actions property owners can take is to get to know their neighbours.
Kneehill County has designed their own CPTED program and began rolling it out in June of this year. Residents can request an assessment of their property and how they can make changes. They have also teamed up with the RCMP to help distribute information on the program.
“Counties around us have also adopted this program. Through the Community Police Advisory Committee, we thought it could be a tool to help the RCMP as well,” said manager of Protective Services, Deb Grosfield. “If a property was broken into, we could actually then work with the RCMP. We cannot do criminal code, but the police can, so if we can help the police… the officer can give the owner our information and our brochure and we can come out and help even further.”
For residents to take advantage of the program, they can sign up for an assessment by going to www.kneehillcounty.com. A peace officer will come out and spend time assessing the property.
“We go through it with them make some recommendations on things they can change. Some could be costly fixes and some they could do themselves,” said Rempel.