Criminal Behavior

By definition, laws don’t stop criminals, but certain practices can help mitigate criminal activity at the new skatepark. Before pursuing any robust anti-crime efforts, consult your local law enforcement.

The most significant impact you have on reducing criminal activity is to locate your skatepark in an area with lots of visibility, activity, and social interactions. Mitigating nuisance and criminal activity through environmental design, a practice known as CPTED, will also reduce community fears associated with the skatepark. (The idea of a facility designed specifically to attract groups of 15-year-old boys puts a lot of people on alert.) Of course, proper skatepark siting is a consideration made very early in the development process, and in cases where communities are facing a skatepark that attracts delinquent or criminal behavior due to its remote location, it’s too late to employ this powerful concept.

The new skatepark is likely to become a landmark for local youth. Adolescent residents may have few attractions in your community that can compete with the activity, coolness, and economic value of the skatepark. In other words, the skatepark is going to attract skateboarders as well as those that are interested in the bustling venue. In almost all cases, this attention is terrific and desired…but those that prey on youth, particularly drug dealers, can also be drawn to the skatepark for obvious reasons.

Lighting and clear sight lines into and around the skatepark will help prevent some unwanted activity but may enable after-hours skating. If ambient sound from the skatepark is not causing a problem for neighbors, having skaters at the park into the early evening is much better than having people using the skatepark for other things. The value of reducing low shrubs and enabling natural, community-based surveillance is the denial of concealment, and not an expectation that the community police the park itself. Criminals seeking private space will have to look elsewhere.

Some communities locate their new skateparks adjacent to police stations. Local law enforcement clearly has better things to do than stare out the window at the skatepark, but the idea that police are nearby can dissuade some individuals from brazenly using the park for their illegal activities.

Direct communication between the skateboarding community and Parks administrators to define “normal” use will help build consensus on which individuals at the facility belong, and which ones do not. Skateboarders tend to be territorial, and by establishing clear distinctions between those that are “blowing it for everyone” at the park, and those that are welcome to skate or just hang out, can be a powerful instrument in mitigating criminal activity.