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M u r w i n | 1Katelyn MurwinSociology of PolicingDr. Ryan King6 May 2014Broken Windows PolicingDefining______________________________________________________________________ The Broken Windows method of policing was first introduced in 1982 when James Wilson and George Kelling published a book on a new theory in policing. The Broken Windowstheory suggests that where disorder is prevalent more major and violent crimes will arise. As Kelling and Wilson wrote “If the first broken window in a building is not repaired, the people who like breaking windows will assume that no one cares about the building and more windows will be broken. Soon the building will have no windows.” Simply put, if minuet crimes and disorder occur there is a greater chance more serious crimes will as well. While this method wastalk amongst criminologists in the 80’s it was first aggressively implemented in New York City in 1993. Differentiating__________________________________________________________________Wilson and Kelling’s Broken Windows style centers around a myriad of solutions uniquefrom other policing styles: a more aggressive approach to minor crimes and disorderly acts, morefoot patrol and face to face interactions with police and civilians, and finally pay more mind to citizen’s concerns. They claim as an aftermath of collectively taking these actions, violent crimerates will drop. The aggressive approach toward disorder will be beneficial because in areas where criminals know and can see that petty crimes are tolerated they arrive at the impression that no one cares or looks after that community. That then leads them to believe they will have aM u r w i n | 2higher success rate of committing their more serious crime. Therefore, well-tended to areas withlow disorder will repel serious offenders. The presence of policemen themselves is also seen as a deterrent to serious crimes. This acts in two different ways. One, the fear of being seen and caught by the authorities fends off these crimes but also, policemen with a foot patrol route, allowing for better relations with the citizens in their beat, are more likely to get better intelligence. This intel can work both proactively and retroactively against crimes. In the initial phase, it will work reactively because it will be civilians reporting what they saw or heard happen, giving the police leads. Then after time, once criminals realize the police have these sources they will fear being reported on and therefore this will become a proactive method of policing. The authors also advocate as a part of Broken Windows that police pay careful attention to public concerns and try to eliminate fear amongst citizens. Their reasoning is that if people are less fearful and more comfortable in their community they will spend more time out and engaging in it. To criminals, this poses the problem of more possible witnesses making them more cautions and less likely to carry out their crimes. And by allowing the public a say in the policing agenda this will help police stay in the good graces of the community which is very helpful tool in policing.Overall, what makes this policing method differ from those before it is its focus on being proactive rather than reactively responding to crimes. Broken Windows is all about what can thepolice do to prevent crimes rather than how can they best respond to them. It is also one of a kind because wrote out on paper it looks as though it places disorder as a higher priority thanM u r w i n | 3serious crime. While this boggles the minds of many, it appears this way because Kelling and Wilson are suggesting we treat disorder as the gateway to serious crime. Deterring Disorder______________________________________________________________The first implementation to this style of policing was done in New York City in 1993. New commissioner William Bratton had police focused their efforts on decreasing disorder and the result was a success.1 The greatest triumph was in the New York City subways. Before 1993subways had been littered with graffiti, homeless folks, and aggressive panhandlers leaving citizens fearful and unwilling to ride the subway. Police implemented Broken Windows policingby removing the graffiti and punishing what may be small petty offenses on and around the subway. This soon led to a decrease in the public’s fear of the subway system and in turn resulted to a spike in riders. This trend is not one specific to New York City. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, high waypatrol men started cracking down and saturating their areas of patrol. Much as New York City uses the subway westerners use the roadways and this was the most effective way to reach the most people. By implementing Broken Windows policing crashes, DUI’s and traffic violations all decreased.The benefits of Broken Windows soon spread over seas too. After hearing Kelling and Wilson’s theory Dr. Keizer from the Netherlands proceeded to run mimicking experiments to testout the Broken Windows theory. Keizer and his colleagues would set up two sites, one with disorder (graffiti, litter, etc.) and one without to test which site was more likely to have disorder 1 The official crime rate significantly dropped in New York City, with murder decreasing by 72 percent between 1990 and 1998, while total violent crime went down by 51 percent. (Randal Sheldon, Assessing Broken Windows)M u r w i n | 4and crimes occur in. They stumbled across the same exact findings.2 These experiments were extremely different in crime severity and not centering around transportation as Albuquerque andNew York did, they still showed the exact same effect, where people see disorder they are more likely to commit crime, petty or serious. While after hearing the success stories, this theory may seem like a no brainer. However,it did come at a cost, an example being New York and their troubles with the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU was infuriated with the Broken Windows policy claiming it was a plot to target the poor and the homeless. They supported this claim by explaining how begging and being publically seen as homeless was part of their first amendment right, freedom of speech. They claimed that their being in the streets was a form of expression against the hardships and poverty that they were facing and which they were entitled to. Broken Windows received much backlash from many minorities. A staple of Broken Windows, the stop

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OSU SOCIOL 5618 - Broken Windows Policing

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