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The Big Answer


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Fixing Broken Windows: Restoring Order And Reducing Crime In Our Communities

a book by George L. Kelling and Catherine M. Coles

(our site's book review)

This book shows how communities can work together to reduce crime and restore order. The program outlined here is not theory—it was tried in New York City and it worked very effectively. There was some static from libertarians whose misguided protestations will probably die away quickly once they realize the city is being made safer and more orderly and livable for their families as well, and mass transit rides are more secure and orderly. The authors proved that by controlling disorderly behavior in public spaces, one creates an environment where serious crime cannot/is less likely to flourish.

New York's order restoration program has stopped panhandlers and squeegeemen aggressively getting in people’s faces
New York's order restoration program has stopped panhandlers and squeegeemen aggressively getting in people’s faces

Another new policy is getting many of the small-time offenders to perform a significant amount of community service. All this has made New York a place with little graffiti on walls or busses or trains, cleaner streets and parks, and—most of all—few panhandlers and squeegeemen aggressively getting in people’s face in a not-so-subtle extortion racket. If the bleeding-heart liberals and the community-careless libertarians had never tried so hard to give street people incredible rights to harrass and threaten—just because these were society’s supposed “victims”—New York wouldn’t have had to take back its streets and parks so aggressively. But better late than never. It was time liberals learn that letting bums and lowlifes accost and victimize New York citizens was a poor, destructive, neurotic way to work off their “guilt” for being haves while the bums were have-nots. In short, by encouraging irresponsibility, they only made matters worse, actually diminishing the chances that any of the lowlifes would feel motivated to get their act together.

New York City is a model for how all metropolitan areas should revamp laws, courts, punishments, community service requirements, park rules, subway and station regulations and so on, in order to make their cities livable, attractive and safe for residents ad tourists, and less an environment that breed more serious crimes. Trust between citizens and police is being restored. Kelling and Coles deserve the praise of every American for discovering a key to improving the quality of life in cities.

The new orderliness policy has made New York a place with little graffiti on walls or busses or trains
The new orderliness policy has made New York a place with little graffiti on walls or busses or trains

The new functional description of police work now contains community policing that goes way beyond responding to reported felonies. It involves keeping the peace and public order, protecting constitutional liberties, ensuring security, resolving conflicts, assisting people who are in danger or who cannot help themselves, managing problems that endanger citizens and/or communities, and responding to emergencies. Such work required community interfacing and reliance on citizens for information and support. It required local management and not micromanagement, devolving of power down to the level it was needed, not bureaucratic and hierarchical snafus.

Community policing
Community policing

The authors opt for community-based prevention rather than cycling endless offenders through a criminal justice system that just hardens them. They recognize that although they have some great answers to restoring order and reducing crime, in general, it doesn’t deal with the root causes of inadequate parenting, low quality schools that are unsafe, dangerous streets and an armed and dangerous underclass.

There are bleeding-heart liberal detractors of the program, of course: It’s Time to End ‘Broken Windows’ Policing. But most people are smart enough to give the broken windows policy its due: Fewer Broken Windows, and a Decline in Crime.

Most people are smart enough to give the broken windows policy its due
Most people are smart enough to give the broken windows policy its due