Alexandria’s SafeAlex program, under the direction of Charles F. Smith Jr., will present a two-day clinic, Wednesday, Nov. 20, and Thursday, Nov. 21, at the Central Louisiana Business Incubator, 1501 Wimbledon Boulevard in Alexandria.
SafeAlex is designed to enable citizens to become involved in making Alexandria safer through the education, empowerment and actions of the individuals who live the city’s neighborhoods. SafeAlex isn’t a police-based program. It’s about the public becoming involved in helping make their neighborhoods safer.
The clinic will be led by Greg Saville, an internationally known expert in helping to facilitate the creation of safe growth communities throughout the world. Saville is a former police officer and criminologist as well as an urban planner. He is one of the co-founders of the International CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) Association.
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a multi-disciplinary approach to deterring criminal behavior through environmental design. The idea is that the physical and social environment can be designed in such a way as to influence offender, or potential offender, behavior. For example, a well-lighted street leaves fewer hiding places for burglars and therefore may deter them from committing a crime that neighborhood. Another example is as simple as when a neighbor goes on vacation and has mail and newspaper delivery held and sets timers on various lights inside the home making would-be offenders believe the home is occupied.
The goal of the clinic is to train individuals and neighborhood watch groups, who are committed to making their neighborhoods and the city safer, on how to apply these principles through safety audits, studying crime statistics and formulating a plan that goes beyond just watching your neighbor’s house but actually allows the group to set goals to reduce and prevent crime.
The clinic will be held from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 20, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 21. Those who make the commitment to be present and gain this knowledge will be a part of a program destined to make a difference in their community. SafeAlex members, city planning officials and Alexandria Police will also take part in the clinic and be on hand to offer whatever assistance to the groups.
At the end of the clinic, groups will develop a set of goals for their neighborhoods and carry out the research and steps necessary to follow through on developing a working plan. The groups will then be invited to a summit planned for the spring 2014 where they will present their work to the summit participants. The groups will be expected to meet two or three times after the clinic to further develop and implement their plans.
The clinic is free but participation is limited. Dinner will be served on Wednesday and lunch will be served on Thursday.
Individuals interested in developing a neighborhood watch group or group members already involved in a neighborhood watch are encouraged to sign up for this important training.
This training also will move groups toward fulfilling the requirements of a committed Neighborhood Watch, which is one of the steps necessary toward having official signs erected in a neighborhood.
It is important to have active groups who are actually undertaking the steps necessary to create a safer neighborhood. If the signs are put up and offenders see no activity and don’t get caught in the areas where signs are present, the signs will not serve as a deterrent to crime. If, however, active groups help offenders get arrested, word will get around that if a Neighborhood Watch sign means don’t go in that area because you will get caught. That makes the watch group and the signs effective as deterrents to criminal behavior.
To register for the clinic, contact Cynthia Jardon, public information officer for the city, at Cynthia.firstname.lastname@example.org or call (318) 449-5038.
To learn more about Saville and safe growth, visit his SafeGrowth Blog.
For more information about SafeAlex go to http://www.cityofalexandriala.com/safealex.