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The Daily Tar Heel

Police to use design to prevent crime at Obey Creek

Police want to work with homeowners to protect the new development.

The department has asked developers to use Crime Prevention through Environmental Design planning, at Obey Creek, which will be located on U.S. Highway 15-501, said Lt. Josh Mecimore, a spokesman for the Chapel Hill Police Department.

The planning system is used by police to deter crime by improving the environment of a neighborhood. This can be done by altering building designs and improving exterior lights.

Examples of implementing the design can include reducing the number of abandoned buildings in a community, strengthening of doors and locks and making sure buildings are up to code.

“This is one of a number of ideas that fall under community-oriented policing,” he said.

As a part of CPTED, officers introduce themselves to residents and become a part of the community to facilitate cooperation between police and residents. They talk to residents about issues that could unintentionally create an environment for crime.

The Good Neighbor Initiative in the Northside community is an example of CPTED, he said.

Some examples of problems that the policy addresses include plants and shrubs that block the visibility of windows and poorly lit areas. These problems would be addressed before the construction of the development.

The concept is broad and difficult to narrow down, Mecimore said. More information about the concept can be found on the Department of Justice’s website.

“We have a number of officers who were taught CPTED,” he said.

Any resident who wants to participate in the program will be assisted by the department, he said. Officers typically work with homeowners.

“People who like to commit crimes like to stay in the shadows,” he said. “The point of this is to try to design to deter crime.”

Chapel Hill resident Jennifer Newall said the Town Council should look into this design for Obey Creek before construction begins.

“I just heard about this new way to design developments,” she said. “We need to think about these things before the facts.”

Since the plan has to be incorporated into the design of the development, the plan should not be an afterthought, she said. CPTED would improve both the design and safety of the community.

“I appreciate that the town is looking for input, and I hope it continues,” she said.

Council member Lee Storrow said he supports trying to address public safety concerns in the plans for Obey Creek.

“I think it would be valuable to have a conversation about an element in ensuring public safety,” he said. “I will be asking the developer if there are any ways to consider public safety.”

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