“You know your CPTED designs work when bears use the walkways.”
Mike Clark, an old friend and retired Royal Canadian Mounted Police Staff Sergeant, spoke those words with a smirk and a twinkle in his eye when he began his CPTED lectures. No one knew what he meant because no one knew the wit of the storyteller.
Some may remember my blog about Tumbler Ridge, the world’s first CPTED town built in northern British Columbia. When planners and architects crafted plans for this new town in the mountains they visited Canada’s first CPTED course in Vancouver in 1982.
Police students and instructors on that course helped redesign the land uses and pedestrian walkways using CPTED. To my knowledge, CPTED had never before been implemented into an entire town at such an early stage with such depth.
Mike Clark was a student in that initial class. Eventually Mike was promoted and his first posting was commander of the detachment in that very same Tumbler Ridge, the town that he helped design. How many CPTED practitioners get to live in a town they themselves helped plan? Another first.
I met Mike years later when I ran that CPTED course and Mike became one of our best trainers. He often began his lectures about the success of CPTED in Tumbler Ridge with that bear story.
He would tell us that, not only did residents frequent those well-designed walkways (thereby deterring burglars), but so too did local bears. While residents met in the safety of groups to socialize and walk, burglars worked alone. What happens when a lone burglar meets a bear while searching for a burglary target?
Unsurprisingly, Tumbler Ridge had low burglary rates, an irony not lost on my jocular friend.
Mike died a few weeks ago. Over the years I have written about well-known architects and criminologists, but none had the authentic, real-life spirit and pioneering CPTED experience of Mike Clark.
I am sad there will be no more CPTED bear stories from our affable Mountie Sergeant from Tumbler Ridge. Goodbye Mike - Maintiens le Droit.