When music comes on at night it is usually a signal to teenagers that a party is beginning but on the streets of Chinatown, classical music is the new call to curfew. New strategies are being implemented to use music as an instrument to prevent loitering and the potential for crime and violence.
Last month, My Fox D.C. published an article about using the symphonic sounds to deter teenagers from hanging out around Chinatown during the late night. Visitors in the area had been complaining about the overcrowding from teenagers during the summer months and trash on the steps of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.
The move is not only a stroke of genius, but a great use of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). While the lights of restaurants are beaming into the night sky, classical music is definitely an oddity—but an effective oddity.
I was a teenager once and not too long ago in fact. During the summer, the places that were not too far from home were where we always went to avoid the heat as much as possible. As a summer intern and part-time tourist here in D.C., I can understand the attraction to Chinatown. The amazing restaurants, the theatres and museums—it is a wonderful place to spend some free time. Why wouldn’t it get overcrowded?
Albeit random, classical music is a great way to minimize those crowds during the late nights. Lancaster, PA has gone the music route too. Music is a quick and cost effective way to get the job done but there are other ways to keep communities safe by using CPTED. Law enforcement and the community business owners need help to control the crowds.
In the print edition of Washington Post last Thursday, readers gave feedback about their feelings of the police crackdown on teenagers causing trouble in Chinatown. One writer said, “Chinatown is a hangout spot for ALL residents of D.C. This is city life, not the suburbs, and it is the summer—get used to it. I do admit that during my lunch break it is annoying to go downtown and a bunch of kids are blocking my entrance to Chipotle.”
That’s why using CPTED to minimize overcrowding and the potential for crime and violence is the way to go. Some cities have cleaned up their neighborhoods with CPTED concepts. Here’s how to bring it to your community by using these four Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design principles.
Access Control. This element of CPTED involves designing streets, sidewalks and entrances to buildings that draw clear lines between private, semi-private and public areas.
Territorial Reinforcement. Similar to access control, territorial enforcement also helps residents put up signs that send “hands off” messages to potential offenders.
Maintenance. Keeping up the area lets potential criminals know that the area is well cared for and no place for criminal activity. Maintenance includes keeping up with landscaping, repairing broken windows and painting over graffiti. Proper upkeep lets criminals know that there are people watching out for the property and will report illegal activity.
Surveillance. We are watching. But not in the way that you think. This principle emphasizes designing the area in a way that maximizes the visibility of people in parking areas, vehicles and site activities. Windows should be placed strategically, as well as doors, walkways and parking lots.
Summer is sure to bring out the crowds to popular hot spots in an area like Chinatown. Just don’t be surprised if you suddenly hear classical music playing in your favorite hangout.