Monday, December 1, 2014

Should the NYPD dump "Broken Windows"?

From Huffington Post:

As outrage simmered in the hours before the release of the Ferguson verdict, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton made a rare public appearance to defend his Broken Windows policing philosophy. But his remarks brought controversy from those affected by aggressive policing.

"No conversation on urban crime is complete without the communities that are affected by [Bratton's] policing theory," said activist and Huffington Post contributor Josmar Trujillo, dressed in a snapback and "Fire Bratton Now" t-shirt on the sidewalk outside the event.

During Bratton's remarks, Trujillo and at least a dozen other activists stood to protest the abuse they say Bratton's policing has brought to targeted communities in New York City.

The appearance was Bratton's attempt to shore up Broken Windows policing against a rising tide of discontent. But the best he could muster was a skin-deep redefinition of the theory, even as he failed to respond to loud concerns from his constituents.

Speaking in NYU's opulent Vanderbilt Hall, Bratton celebrated the crime reductions of his previous NYPD tenure. But he glossed over the reality that nearly every American city experienced a decline over the same period - even without locking away historic numbers of residents.

And he ignored the topic of police reform, highlighted by the recent shooting death of Akai Gurley, until questioned by NYU Professor Rachel Barkow. Asked what measures could reduce wrongful deaths, he was reticent to promise swift reform, citing high costs for proposed body cameras and logistical delay in pairing rookies with experienced officers.

But most troubling was his disingenuous attempt to redefine Broken Windows, which is conventionally understood as aggressive enforcement of quality-of-life laws like "panhandling [and] disorderly behavior."

Bratton claimed that the meteoric growth in low-level arrests is actually driven by policing of serious crimes - he cited drunk driving and domestic violence as examples - rather than by arrests for sidewalk grilling and moving between train cars.

But that claim does not mesh with the facts - arrests for quality-of-life offenses have surged faster than any other crime.

Turnstile-hopping, considered by many police reform advocates to epitomize Broken Windows policing, accounts for more jail convictions than any other charge (excluding all drug possession charges combined). From Bratton's speech, the audience would not have known that between 2008 and 2013, turnstile arrests grew by 69%.


Anonymous said...

All right then.

Let the residents of each community decide if they want to have "broken windows" policing in their own neighborhoods continue. Have a vote on it - yea or nay.

For my own community I would vote yea and I'm sure most of the other residents would as well and then nothing would change - for us.

If, however, the majority of people in another community vote nay, fine, and then "broken windows" policing stops IN THAT COMMUNITY ONLY. If that community should happen to be where Josmar Trujillo resides, even better. Then he can study, first hand, what the effect is on his own neighborhood.

Let Mr. Trujillo's neighborhood be the test case. The outcome might provide valuable data.

Anonymous said...

Di Blasio should dump Bratten then the voters should dump Di Blasio.

Anonymous said...

The reason "Broken Windows" worked in the 90s is that the petty crimes were a visible context to arrest people who were actually also committing more serious crimes. ie, turnstile jumpers tended to be packing heat, drugs, or had outstanding warrants for other major felonies.

Now that crime is much lower in the city, the policy is yielding vastly diminished marginal returns, and people's neighborhoods don't necessary "feel" any safer.

If Bratton turned the cops' attention to illegal conversions, sex slavery, illegal dumping, parking permit fraud, etc. (you know, the REAL quality of life issues you read about on this blog) then he might be more popular.

Anonymous said...

If police officers are only going to measured on response to 911 calls, I'm sure they would be all for that. It's a win-win: The community gets the cops off the streets, and the cops can do an entire shift sitting in the precinct.

Anonymous said...

GO to Amazon and inform yourself and spread the word about the book White Girl bleed alot. Read the book and make a decision based on facts and not conjecture.

Anonymous said...

Just don't complain when homicides are push the 1000 mark, your house gets burglarized every now and then or when you are the subject of a robbery once or twice s year. You cant have your cake and expect to eat it ad well.