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Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design in Sarasota, Florida

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In many communities, dealing with crime is still considered the exclusive domain of law enforcement. Police and sheriff’s departments operate independently of other governmental or community efforts. Likewise planning departments often fail to invite the participation of law enforcement into the planning process. This “territorial” division has created an unfortunate bureaucratic obstacle to the successful rebuilding of communities.

The City of Sarasota challenged this old way of doing business and proved that prevention efforts can be enhanced by having planning and law enforcement work together, instead of apart. The City’s “North Trail” provided the testing ground.

North Trail Sector Study

The North Trail area is Sarasota’s gateway to the central business district and Gulf Coast beaches. Bisected by U.S. Route 41, the “Trail” was characterized by numerous “mom and pop” motels and other deteriorating structures built prior to the 1960s. Over the years, few of the structures had been improved, and many had been poorly maintained. The southern half of the “North Trail” had experienced the greatest degree of economic decline. Characterized by an ongoing and highly visible prostitution problem, crime and the perception of crime were major issues identified by the public, and confirmed by a crime analysis. Left unchecked, the commercial area and surrounding neighborhoods seemed destined to continue their downward spiral with all of the attendant social, economic and criminal consequences. …

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