Tuesday, May 13, 2014
By Chris Green
Rockford Register Star
Posted May. 18, 2014 @ 8:00 am
ROCKFORD — Chilly and a threat of rain.
Tuesday afternoon’s 54-degree overcast day was “ideal” play weather for J.C. Howard’s 10-year-old son.
As for last Monday’s sunny 84-degree day, the warmest of the year, Howard said, “There were two fights that day. If it’s too nice of a day, I have to be a little bit more careful with him.”
Such is life for residents in Rockford Housing Authority’s Blackhawk Courts housing complex at 338 15th Ave. The threat of unexpected or unprovoked violence exists every day.
“We understand through some of our intelligence out there, it’s going to be a troublesome summer for a lot of our neighborhoods,” said RHA CEO Ron Clewer.
To help stave off violence at Blackhawk Courts and other RHA public housing complexes, Rockford Police Department brass, private security firm Metro Enforcement and Clewer have been meeting weekly with managers at Blackhawk Courts, Fairgrounds Valley and Orton Keyes to determine how to implement elements of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design.
CPTED, which dates back to the early 1970s, is an urban approach to crime prevention. CPTED involves designing physical environments that deter criminal activity and improve quality of life for residents.
Residential building designs feature well-placed windows that are unobstructed from tree foliage or shrubs to allow residents to see individuals approaching. Public spaces also are well lit and manicured and don’t provide hiding spaces. Such designs allow for self-policing. If necessary, visible and hidden security cameras also can be installed.
While CPTED principles are best implemented during the design of a community and the construction of each building, Clewer said certain elements such as landscaping can still be applied or retrofitted to the housing authority’s 30- and 40-year old properties.
“We’ll trim up the landscape so that there are no hiding spots,” he said. “That’s something we’ll be doing this spring at all of our housing developments.
“It sounds silly and simple, but it’s true. If you have a big overgrown area of pine trees, it’s a pretty good hiding spot. But if you trim them up a few feet or 4 feet, you can see under them now. The hiding area is gone.”
RHA officials and police also have re-examined the strength of doors and locks at various RHA sites, particularly the 175 units at Orton Keyes where an individual, Clewer said, kicked in a door.