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M u r w i n 1 Katelyn Murwin Sociology of Policing Dr Ryan King 6 May 2014 Broken Windows Policing Defining 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 Windows theory 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 was talk 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 unique from other policing styles a more aggressive approach to minor crimes and disorderly acts more foot 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 crime rates 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 a M u r w i n 2 higher success rate of committing their more serious crime Therefore well tended to areas with low 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 the police 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 than M u r w i n 3 serious 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 1993 subways had been littered with graffiti homeless folks and aggressive panhandlers leaving citizens fearful and unwilling to ride the subway Police implemented Broken Windows policing by 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 way patrol 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 test out 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 4 and 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 and New 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 and frisk was eventually found to be used in a disproportionate manner based on race While making up just over 40 percent of the population whites did not even make up 15 percent of those stopped and frisked Compare that to their black counterpart consisting of about 25 percent of the population they comprised over

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OSU SOCIOL 5618 - Broken Windows Policing

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