Oklahoma City police said they are targeting one of the most violent areas of the city to clean up crime, and they're reaching out to neighbors to get the job done.
Many places in the metro are starting to implement the idea, including Automobile Alley where large murals and help deter crime.
“Basically the perception of the environment dictates criminal behavior,” Oklahoma City Police MSgt. Bob Skalla said.
There's a science behind it. It is a popular concept on the east and west coasts and even in Europe that's slowly being tested in the metro. So far crime has decreased by more than 5 percent in just a year in a particularly rowdy area that includes 4.4 square mile pocket.
“In that area we have 39 apartment complexes, and that contributes to a large amount of crime in the area,” Oklahoma City Police MSgt. Robert Henderson said.
The area is west Melrose Lane to N.W. 27th Street and from Meridian to North Council. Police selected that zone because it's got more violent crime than any other part of the city.
Police fight the crime nonstop but said they are now are trying to curb it from happening by getting into the mind of potential criminals.
“We know that the would be offender is constantly operating upon this basic premise, ‘Not to get caught, not to get caught,'” Skalla said.
And doing so before a crime ever happens.
“Basically we are designing out crime, but for the buildings that are already designed we know that tweaking the environment a little here, a little there strategically and deliberately plays a huge role psychologically for that would be offender,” Skalla said.
It's working and local neighborhoods have jumped on board and are implementing the tactics themselves and working with the city to add things like sidewalks.
Thirty five years ago Chuck Musson moved into his northwest Oklahoma City home.
“It was nice,” Musson said. “A very nice neighborhood.”
However, an apartment complex went up, and he said after a while so did other things.
“There has been some crime that has come into the overall area,” he said. “We wished it was managed better.”
There are four things police said will reduce the risk of being victimized as well as increase an offender getting caught:
1. Access control by guiding the flow of people with signs, streets, sidewalks and entrances.
2. Natural surveillance by maximizing visibility by either removing shrubbery and improved lighting
3. Maintenance or basic upkeep
4. Territorial reinforcement with fencing, pavement treatments and landscaping.
For more information on CPTED or the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Program contact the Hefner Division of the Oklahoma City Police Department.