Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Why We Need Broken Windows Policing by William J. Bratton and George L. Kelling, City Journal Winter 2015

Police Commissioner Bratton is defending his long-time embrace of "broken windows".   I certainly favor "community policing" but I tend to see the broken windows approach as too broad a license.
I remember crossing the GWB every night on my way home to meet squeegee men.  Though no harm was done it was unnerving and intrusive. and when I picked up my daughter from daycare on West 162 Street men stepped to the street as soon as they saw my Jersey plates, waving to me like they were calling a cab. The crack trade was out of control.  And like any trade in contraband it was ungoverned and put guns in the hands of traders.  P.O. Michael Buczek was killed on the corner there.
At Fordham's Bronx campus reports of iPhone robberies are common.  Obviously an area like that requires a different kind of patrol than does my neighborhood which sees little attention by the police.  But the fact that Latin and Black young me are the most frequent perpetrators of street crimes and nuisances cannot be the basis for viewing every Black teenager as under suspicion. - gwc
Why We Need Broken Windows Policing by William J. Bratton and George L. Kelling, City Journal Winter 2015:
Broken Windows Policing has saved countless New York lives—most of them minority—cut the jail population, and reknit the social fabric.
A prostitute smoking crack - Bushwick, Brooklyn,
early 1990's
 Quality-of-life crimes like these are not “victimless”; they harm whole neighborhoods. Recent tragic incidents involving the New York City Police Department (NYPD)—including the summer 2014 death of Eric Garner, who was being arrested on Staten Island, and the autumn 2014 death of Akai Gurley, shot accidentally by a young police officer in a housing project in Brooklyn—have reinvigorated police critics, especially in the context of a broader national discussion about crime and race prompted by events in Ferguson, Missouri.
The horrific murders of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in December, by a man claiming to avenge Garner’s death, have added a deeply tragic counterpoint to this maelstrom of anti-police sentiment. Even as the department mourns its loss, it remains under fire for its adherence to some of the most fundamental principles of American policing.
 The NYPD’s critics object, in particular, to the department’s long-standing practice of maintaining order in public spaces. This practice, widely referred to as Broken Windows or quality-of-life or order-maintenance policing, asserts that, in communities contending with high levels of disruption, maintaining order not only improves the quality of life for residents; it also reduces opportunities for more serious crime.
Indeed, the Broken Windows metaphor is one of deterioration: a building where a broken window goes unrepaired will soon be subject to far more extensive vandalism—because it sends a message that the building owners (and, by extension, the police) cannot or will not control minor crimes, and thus will be unable to deter more serious ones. A neighborhood where minor offenses go unchallenged soon becomes a breeding ground for more serious criminal activity and, ultimately, for violence. We are strongly associated with the Broken Windows approach to policing. Together with the late political scientist James Q. Wilson, George Kelling wrote the seminal 1982 article on Broken Windows, published in the Atlantic, and has served widely as an advisor to police departments, transit authorities, and other urban entities. William Bratton—as chief of the New York City Transit Police, commissioner of the Boston Police, commissioner of the NYPD, chief of the LAPD, and now again commissioner in New York—has been a leading practitioner of the Broken Windows approach in the nation’s largest mass-transit system and its two largest cities."

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