Rudy Giuliani's Broken Windows Theory

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Although Rudy Giuliani, mayor of New York City in the 1990s, is most frequently credited with starting that city’s application of the broken windows theory, his predecessor, David Dinkin, truly began its use. He hired 8,000 new officers, as well as a new police commissioner, and began the move towards broken windows and community policing (Business Insider). Additionally, while it is true that New York’s crime rates have dropped in the past few decades, the reasons behind this are unclear. Broken windows methods have also raised issues of racial profiling, civil liberties, and, in the push for increased arrests and summonses for minor crimes, what truly constitutes a crime? There have been instances of arrests for actions that are not usually …show more content…
Minor crimes can be broken down into two subsets, those of physical crimes, such as broken windows and vandalism, and disorder crimes, such as noise complaints and panhandlers. (Britannica) The belief is that these factors show a disregard for a home or a community, which may serve as a type of signal to potential criminals. Potential criminals may believe that they will find an easy target in these areas, be it through a lack of security measures or because the people living in these areas either do not trust the police or do not believe the crime is worth reporting. It is also possible that those committing minor crimes and not being punished for them will graduate to more serious crimes. The “theory further posits that the prevalence of disorder creates fear in the minds of citizens who are convinced that the area is unsafe. This withdrawal from the community weakens social controls that previously kept criminals in check.” (Britannica) William Bratton, the police commissioner most responsible for the application of broken windows in New York City, implemented the theory by focusing his department’s efforts on panhandling, disorderly behaviour, public drinking, street prostitution, and attempts to obtain money from drivers stopped in traffic. …show more content…
There are conflicting viewpoints, some saying that broken windows theory is the cause of the lower crime rates, others saying that higher employment rates or the increased arrest rate are the cause (cite). Kelling, one of the originators of this method, has said that broken windows is not being used the way he envisioned. He says that it was meant as a tactic, one of many tools to be used in conjunction, and that immediate arrests or court summonses were not his intention. In an interview with FRONTLINE: “’So yeah,’ he said. “There’s been a lot of things done in the name of Broken Windows that I regret.”’ (PBS) The use of the broken windows theory in policing may or may not have led to a lower crime rate, but it has undeniably infringed upon the civil liberties of countless American

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