Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Crime on the Parkway, Policing does Matter

Over the last few months we have seen evidence (see our previous posting on Parkway crime) that serious crime is increasing in the Parkway and many would argue that it is because the lack of enforcement of petty crime creates an atmosphere where crime grows and thrives.

This is the classic “broken windows theory” of crime and an excellent article about controlling crime by enforcing even its most petty manifestations, (as we have been calling for regarding the illegal camping in the Lower Reach of the Parkway), by one of the developer of the theory, George Kelling, is posted.

Policing Does Matter
William H. Sousa, George L. Kelling
New research refutes the “root-causes” theory of crime.

After September 11, as New York’s Finest turned some of their attention away from ordinary policing and focused on preventing another terrorist strike, violent crime spiked up in some areas of the city. The spike suggested how activist policing really does cut crime: if you stop doing it, this is what happens. The experience served as a reminder that Gotham’s amazing crime turnaround during the 1990s, with murder falling 70 percent and violent crimes in general down by more than half, rested on the innovations of Giuliani-era policing—and above all on the “broken-windows” strategy of policing such “quality of life” offenses as aggressive panhandling and public urination, on the assumption that tolerating such disorder gives wrongdoers the impression that no one is in charge and encourages more serious offenses.

Most academic criminologists, however, don’t buy the idea that changes in policing can change the crime rate. They believe that “root causes” or vast impersonal forces—not policy choices—explain changes in the crime rate. According to these academics, crime declined in the nineties because the crack epidemic burned itself out; the economy boomed, so poor people weren’t forced into a life of crime; and there were fewer testosterone-charged, crime-prone young males around. And if policing did contribute a little to lowering crime, in the ivory-tower view, the costs were excessive, as activist cops spread a reign of terror in poor minority neighborhoods.

For the rest of the article: