Steve Woolrich has fought crime in Red Deer and elsewhere across Alberta.
Now the operator of SeCure Consulting Solutions Inc. is looking to deter wrongdoers even further afield.
A certified CPTED (crime prevention through environmental design) practitioner, Woolrich is travelling to the Dominican Republic this month to share his expertise there. The initiative is being spearheaded by Carolyn Jones, a Delburne resident whose company Happy Earth Inc. has been active in the Caribbean country for several years.
“The Dominican Republic has a higher murder rate per capita than Mexico,” said Jones, attributing much of that crime to the country’s estimated unemployment rate of 25 per cent. “A big part of this is property crime.”
Woolrich, who has 30 years of experience in the security industry, is optimistic his company can help.
He’s enjoyed good success implementing CPTED principles in the City of Red Deer and for other clients.
Many of those principles involve designing buildings and the surrounding area in a way that discourages crime — eliminating hiding places, for instance.
But Woolrich described a second generation of CPTED that emphasizes social development through means like art and music.
“We know from projects like the (downtown Red Deer) street piano that when we create positive activity in public spaces that may have issues or some problems, that that pushes out the criminal element,” he explained.
“We’re essentially replacing negative activity with positive activity.
“People are social. Spaces are going to be a lot safer if we build those things into public spaces.”
In the Dominican Republic, Woolrich will meet with a committee organized by Jones.
Its members include a retired senator who is closely connected with the country’s president, both the education and health ministers, a sociologist, a psychologist and pastor, a university business professor who’s been helping street children, an army officer and a retired teacher who promotes education and protection for women and children.
“There’s a lot of really high-profile people on the committee,” said Jones.
During Woolrich’s trip to the Dominican Republic, which will last from Nov. 12 to 23, the objectives will be to build relationships and decide how to proceed, said Jones.
She’s also looking at ways to finance the work, including tapping into existing Canadian funding for anti-crime initiatives in the Caribbean.
Woolrich hopes to remain involved for years to come, and is already planning a return trip next spring. He plans to bring with him Red Deer musician Randi Boulton.
“We’ve actually committed to doing this annually, so we may be going back a couple times a year for proper follow-up and to build on this initiative.
“There’s got to be that follow-through; it’s just critical.”
Woolrich sees his company’s Dominican Republic work as a stepping stone to other international projects. He’s scheduled to speak at a Mexican conference next week, and believes CPTED could help many other countries address their crime problems.
“I look forward to doing some other work overseas.”
Now in its fifth year of operation in Red Deer, SeCure Consulting is enjoying a growing demand for its services in Alberta.
“We’re experiencing tremendous growth in what we do,” said Woolrich. “This year has just been mind-boggling.”
In addition to the Dominican Republic Safe Communities Initiative, Happy Earth Inc. is developing an organic farm in the country that Jones hopes will create jobs, and market opportunities for other farmers. It’s also pushing ecotourism, with the proceeds from Happy Earth’s business ventures used to promote community economic and social development.
Happy Earth’s website can be found at www.happyearth.ca, while SeCure Consulting’s web address is www.targetcrime.ca.