Readers Respond

Crime prevention through design strategy works when implemented correctly | READER COMMENTARY

As the International CPTED Association (ICA), a non-profit, non-governmental professional organization promoting the proper use of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), we disagree with Nathaniel Adams (”Using environmental design to fight crime invites discrimination,” Aug. 19), who makes a number of unsupported assertions about the role of CPTED.

First, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design is neither a cause, nor a solution, to the problems of systemic racism and racial injustice. Those matters concern us all and involve every aspect of modern life. They will not be eradicated by eradicating a crime prevention strategy that has cut crime in communities over the past decades, including many communities of color.


There are dozens of published studies showing the success of holistic CPTED approaches in, not only cutting crime, but helping communities of color reclaim their neighborhood from drugs and violence.

Second, CPTED has nothing to do with removing amenities like toilets or bus shelters. No doubt some cities have removed such amenities, but that has little to do with competent design practices that follow our Code of Ethics, including this edict: “In all cases the CPTED practitioner should adhere to a prevention creed similar to the medical profession to do no harm.”


Third, the ICA, does not condone “anti-homeless spikes, the metal or concrete studs that seek to deter loitering and sleeping.” The ICA has specifically condemned such approaches. We have seen examples of hostile architecture, but that does not mean it is CPTED.

If there is a problem with poorly implemented CPTED in Baltimore, the solution is simple. Rather than throwing out a proven, community-based method for preventing crime, instead develop policy that insists that all CPTED practitioners are professionally certified by the ICA, and are held to a proper code of ethics.

We have been doing precisely those things in the ICA for a few decades and we invite all those with an interest in equitable and just communities to join us in our mission. Working together, we can help all residents learn how to build diverse and safe neighborhoods in the years ahead.

Dr. Macarena Rau-Vargas, president of the International CPTED Association

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