Few weeks ago, a young woman was murdered near Gangnam subway station. In light of the recent tragic case, the public has learned that simply being careful is no longer enough to be safe from crime. Likewise, frequent violent crimes in today’s society have heightened the public’s awareness of crime prevention. In response to such awareness, Asan Police Station and students from Soon Chun Hyang University teamed up to form University Crime Prevention Observer (UCPO).
This long-term project is a collaboration of Asan Police Station and around 20 Police Administration major students from Soon Chun Hyang University. UCPO has been trying to prevent crime by examining and finding a place that lacks security facilities. These activities follow the principles of Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED), which is “a multi-disciplinary approach to deterring criminal behavior through environmental design,” according to the International CPTED Association.
“The idea came from Crime Prevention Officer (CPO), a professional task force for crime prevention started this year,” explained Choi Myung-ye, representative of the Public Safty Division. “We added the letter ‘U’ for university to CPO and changed the ‘O’ to mean ‘Observer.’ In short, UCPO was started to get students involved in the improvment of the public safety.”
Though the name UCPO refers to university students as “observers,” they actually take a big part in this project. The students have already taken out two activities where they delved into their assigned locations to determine hidden and dangerous factors. On May 12 and 26, they investigated and wrote detailed reports on the crime-related factors in the Asan area. After handing over the reports to Asan Police Station, officers would carry out measures or contact the local government to fix the reported unsafe elements, such as insufficient number of security cameras or street lights in remote corners of towns.
“I was intrigued by the idea that following the principles of CPTED could actually prevent crime, which is why I decided to take part in UCPO,” said Jung Ji-won, a Soon Chun Hyang university student.
Though this activity started out from the police station, it meant a lot to university students who felt like they were guarding their own community.
“It was too hot when I was investigating the places that looked unsafe,” said Lee Hae-min, another student participant. “However, I felt so proud to know that my efforts would eventually change our society into a safer place.“
As the society is experiencing a steady rise of violent crimes, now there is more urgent call for a better social safety as well as tougher crime-fighting measures.
“It is true that hate crimes involve diverse factors other than environmental ones,” Choi said. “However, I believe that eliminating dangerous factors and improving insecure elements would greatly diminish the crime rate. After evaluating how effective these UCPO activities were, we hope to be doing another UCPO project later this year.”