Boing Boing

Broken Windows policing is nonsense

For years, the NYPD and other police departments have justified the highly racialized practice of stop-and-frisk and zero-tolerance approaches to turnstyle hopping, etc, by citing the "broken windows" theory of policing — the idea that if the police stop petty crime, major crime will follow.

The NYPD's Office of the Inspector General has just released a statistical analysis of "broken windows" policing and concluded that there's no evidence to support the idea — meaning that around 100,000-500,000 New Yorkers (overwhelmingly brown people) were stopped and frisked by cops every year, for more than a decade, for no evidence-based reason.

The NYPD itself disputes the report.

OIG-NYPD found no evidence that the drop in felony crime observed over the past six years was related to quality-of-life summonses or quality-of-life misdemeanor arrests. This suggests that there are other strategies that may be driving down crime. Between 2010 and 2015, quality-of-life enforcement rates – in particular, quality-of-life summons rates – have dramatically declined, but there has been no commensurate increase in felony crime. While the stagnant or declining felony crime rates observed in this six-year time frame may perhaps be attributable to NYPD's other disorder reduction strategies, OIG-NYPD finds no evidence to suggest that crime control can be directly attributed to quality-of-life summonses and misdemeanor arrests. Whatever has contributed to the observed drop in felony crime remains an open question worthy of further analysis.

An Analysis
of Quality-of-Life Summonses,
Quality-of-Life Misdemeanor Arrests,
and Felony Crime in New York City,
[New York City Department of Investigation
Office of the Inspector General for the NYPD]

OIG Report: Broken Windows doesn't work
[Cathy O'Neil/Mathbabe]