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How SPD and CPTED Can Make Your Neighborhood Safer

These stairs, which link 49th Ave. and 50th. Ave. on S. Hudson St., will be the focus of future CPTED efforts.

The Seattle Police Department is working with South Seattle neighbors to clean up a darkened stairway in the Seward Park neighborhood after it became the scene of a violent midday robbery earlier this year.

Trees and bushes have grown up around the staircase—which links 49th Avenue and 50th Avenue on S. Hudson Street — and walking along the stairway, especially after dark, can “feel like you’re in a tunnel” says South Precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator Mark Solomon.

Solomon and SPD’s other crime prevention coordinators are all trained in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED – pronounced sep-ted), which they use to address neighborhood problems with “lighting, foliage and shrubbery that makes people feel unsafe,” Solomon says.

Following the robbery on the staircase in February, South Seattle neighbors contacted Solomon to see if the city could improve lighting and trim back the trees along the stairs to make it more visible from the street, and potentially keep it from becoming the scene of another crime.

CPTED, Solomon says, is all about “making changes to an area to reduce crime or reduce incidents of crime.”

For instance, Solomon previously worked with a South Seattle bank to remove ivy from a fence around the business’s parking lot, which had become a magnet for problems, in order to make it more visible from the street.

“If people feel like there’s more eyes on an area, they may actually feel safer,” Solomon says.

If there’s a dark alley, creepy staircase, or overgrown pathway in your neighborhood that you think could be made safer, contact your precinct’s crime prevention coordinator or Community Police Team.