Chad Shade, Director of Security Consulting, has an extensive background in law enforcement and physical security. He has certifications and training with the Department of Homeland Security, LA County Sheriff’s Department, and the National Institute of Crime Prevention (NICP). After recently completing the NICP CPTED course, Vantage News sat down with Chad to learn more about CPTED and how it can help create safer environments.
Vantage News: What is CPTED?
Chad Shade: CPTED is Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. This is a concept of designing buildings and areas in a manner that promotes security through non-traditional methods. When we think “security,” we usually think of cameras, card readers, security guards, fences, etc. CPTED uses concepts such as “natural access” and “natural surveillance” to modify and dictate behavior.
VN: What is Natural Access and Natural Surveillance?
CS: Natural access is the use of soft barriers such as vegetation to guide people through or into a space. Another element is the use of lighting and pavers to indicate walking paths. This helps direct regular users to where they need to go and helps people identify possible bad actors. When someone sees another person outside the “bounds” of the natural paths of travel, it raises suspicion and that person will now be watched; this plays into natural surveillance.
Natural surveillance is the ability for regular people to be able to see what is occurring in a space. This acts as a force multiplier allowing everyone to essentially act as security because they can witness what is going on. Most people try to commit illicit acts in hiding, so allowing others to see will force a typical bad actor to move on. This is done by having large windows, bright white lighting, and reducing possible ambush or hiding spots.
VN: If someone really wanted to get in somewhere, how would CPTED stop them?
CS: The short answer is, it won’t. CPTED is a great model and concept for public spaces and places accessible to the public, but CPTED is not a “be-all end-all” model for security, especially for critical facilities. I see CPTED as a great supplement to a security program, but not as a method to supplant all other options.
One concept taught is the use of “hostile vegetation” or thorny plants. These can be placed in areas such as under windows to discourage people from trying to climb in them. This is a nicer way of preventing someone from trying to break in, but it won’t stop someone ultimately. I wouldn’t recommend securing a power station by placing rose bushes around it; Cameras, card readers, and guards still have a place in security. But you could place hostile vegetation around the base of a fence as an additional layer of security which could assist in thwarting people from climbing over or digging underneath.
VN: When should one incorporate CPTED?
CS: CPTED principles are best applied during the design phase of a project. This allows for other elements to be included such as porches, balconies, set-back distances, and other design features which are difficult to change after construction. Now that doesn’t mean all is lost, CPTED can be applied to existing properties as well. Incorporating concepts such as the 2’-6’ rule for vegetation, meaning shrubs no taller than 2’ and tree branches no lower than 6,’ can be applied at any time. The 2’-6’ rule allows for clear views, reducing possible hiding opportunities and can be sustained with regular landscape maintenance. Same idea applies to changing out plant types, adding light fixtures, or adding some pavers, this can be done as an enhancement after the fact.
VN: How do I know if I need CPTED or any other security measures?
CS: The best way to determine this is by having a security assessment completed. Here at Vantage we provide security assessments that evaluate crime risk, vulnerabilities, and current mitigations. We make recommendations that range from CPTED principles, physical barriers, security technology, and guard services; this all depends on the client, their environment, and their risk profile. We can further assist our clients by providing system design services, assist with testing, and commissioning.