Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED, pronounced sep-ted) helps us to create healthy, safe communities through well planned environmental design. Crime Prevention Units (CPU) and/or Community Liaison Officers (CLO), along with a Safe & Sound representative, perform a CPTED walk and complete a survey to identify potential dangers. There are four areas reviewed on a CPTED walk:

A natural surveillance – generally criminals do not want to be seen. Any architectural design that enhances the chance that a potential offender will be, or might be seen, is a form of natural surveillance. A potential criminal is less likely to attempt a crime if he or she is at risk of being observed. 

Natural access control – properly located entrances, exits, fencing, landscaping and lighting can discourage criminal behavior.

Territorial reinforcements – the use of pavement treatments, landscaping, art signage, screening and fences to define and outline ownership of property. Defined property lines and public spaces are examples of territorial reinforcement.

Maintenance – allows for continued use of a space for its intended purpose. Also serves as an additional expression of ownership. How a property is maintained is instrumental in creating a sense of place, or territory for legitimate users of that space. If a property is well maintained, it shows that management, or the owner cares for and will defend the property against crime.

How it works:

Anytime there is a license application for a business, whether new business or transfer of ownership, the information gets sent to the police district Crime Prevention Unit (CPU) or Community Liaison Officer (CLO) to act on scheduling and completing a CPTED walk.  The team walks around the building while answering questions on the survey about observations on areas of safety such as lighting, visibility, landscaping, etc. The results of their survey are shared with the applicant and recommendations on how to proceed to secure their license.


If you have questions about the CPTED process, get in contact with the Neighborhood Safety Coordinator for you district!