Monday, January 27, 2014

Proposal for low-income apartments a controversy in McAllen, CPTED is a solution

Proposal for low-income apartments sparks controversy in McAllen - The Monitor: Local News

This is an ongoing issue all over the US.  (to some extent the world)  The hope would be that a CPTED Consultant is working with the development team, from the start.  CPTED is Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, when the principals set forth in CPTED, things like pathways between bus stops and higher income houses as well as the pathways from lower income housing and higher income housing needs to be defined.

In one case a simple 6 foot fence less than 10 feet long brought down crime dramatically, by eliminating a pathway, between a bus stop, thru a strip mall, and behind the mall parking.   In another case a pathway was made, to reduce the problem of theft.  With a few lights,(CPTED is normally a passive security science, lights are only as needed) and a camera, allowed for everyone to have a pathway to a bus stop, that was controllable.

Bottom line, there can be advantages to incorporating mixed income housing, and the disadvantage can be dealt with.  The key is to incorporate CPTED into the basic layout, and then continue through the building process.  Many community and some States even countries are making CPTED designs a must for all new development.  Florida for instance requires CPTED design in any new project, or major upgrade, as does Canada.  The county of Fairfax Va. has also incorporated CPTED Design into every government funded project.  CTI, my firm was their CPTED design consultant during it's roll out of the mandate.

Schools are an issue, but as studies have shown the incorporation of new housing that brings in students can be the answer to keeping schools open.  As a community matures so does the make up of citizens in in the community, so less young children, more adults, makes keeping student levels a problem.  I am not sure that type of study has been done, but it would be hoped, it has.

By the way CPTED is often called the green security program, because it stresses passive low or no maintenance or energy costs.  This is why many communities are incorporating it into their communities.  As communities try and keep a lid on government costs, CPTED can be of great advantage.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

EDITORIAL: Advocate for the valley - our economy relies on travel, to, from Mexico - The Monitor: Editorials

EDITORIAL: Advocate for the valley - our economy relies on travel, to, from Mexico - The Monitor: Editorials

This is an interesting editorial, when we have a chance to try and convince a Home Land Security Official to give the Valley more help, instead the writer in this editorial is trying to gloss over the problem.  If you read anything the the Texas DPS put out last year on its threat assessment, you see the UCR by the FBI does not reflect the true crime here in the Valley, on both sides of the border.

Shining a light on problems and issues, is the way to moving to a solution, not just denying the problems exist.  We have a problem, we can solve or mitigate the problems, but only by facing up to them, not by hiding them.

The City leaders on both sides have a lot they can do to help the problems, then really watch the commerce grow.  The criminal element known as the Knights Templar, have started to threaten in both letters and by word of mouth businesses across the border.  This in turn effects cross border business, and in a big way.  The Trucking, and more to the point the trucking dealing with cloth and clothing of used merchandise has seen an criminal increase of more than 200% by extortion and attempted control.  This started in Mexico, where the criminal element, is in control, but now has moved to the US, and can be seen (if you look) in fires and threats to everyone involved in the industry.  None of which seem to make it into the Sheriff's crime reporting to the FBI, or UCR stats.

I can go on to other industries, like criminal elements from Mexico buying and intimidating their way into Bar's and Restaurants on the US side of the border.  Everyone seems to know it is happening, but it does not fit into a slot on the FBI's UCR stats as well.

Now take our Law Enforcement, by threats and huge offers of cash some (not many)  have been corrupted into working with the Cartels and other criminal elements across the border, once again this does not fit into a neat slot in the FBI's UCR reporting stats.  We know this because not only is the Valley involved, Miami, and virtually every big city has seen this at one time or another.  But the answer is to solve the problem, by confronting it, not hiding from it.

This can go on and on, but I will address one more issue that really effects the people on both sides of the border.  That is kidnapping, it is happening, and has happened for years.  The Law Enforcement on the US side of the border use virtually ever trick they can to hide the problem, and more importantly the FBI URC report.  If a person is coerced by threats to family on either side of the border to walk over the border, and then be kidnapped.  This allows the Law Enforcement on this side of the border to claim no kidnapping or reduced kidnapping is going on over here, when everyone effected know it is happening.

Read the DPS threat assessment of 2013, they point out that this crime not only exists, but has a very damaging secondary effect on the Citizens on both sides of the border,that no one is listening, which creates a fear, that also does not show up on the FBI's URC stats.   Here is a quick link to the DPS report, and an overview.