Monday, September 07, 2015

"Why community policing should focus on helping to resolve personal and domestic disputes, not signs of physical decay."

My hunch is that most of us would agree with the utility of community-oriented policing. While mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani famously subscribed to the "broken window" theory, which he extended to include the removal not only of visual signs of physical decay, but also humans he associated with them.

How's this theory holding up?

Private Conflict, Not Broken Windows: Why community policing should focus on helping to resolve personal and domestic disputes, not signs of physical decay, Richard Florida (City Lab)

... The authors’ key findings provide little support for the claim of broken windows theory that visual cues of neighborhood decay precipitate disorder and crime. As O’Brien and Sampson write, “Public denigration had no predictive power, belying the role of literal broken windows; and the link from public social disorder to later public violence was half the magnitude of the reverse pathway from violence to social disorder. Put more simply, both physical and social forms of public disorder were weakly predictive of future violence and disorder, if at all.” This is a big deal because these are the very things on which broken windows policing focuses.

It's ironic: As Florida's essay was being disseminated, Giuliani was back in the news.

Rudolph Giuliani’s Outrage on Homelessness, and Richard Gere’s, by Ginia Bellafante (New York Times)

... In an interview with NBC’s local news channel in New York, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani explained, with both glee and self-regard, that not long ago he had paid a visit to the 19th Precinct station house on the Upper East Side to complain about a homeless man who had taken up residence on his block.

“Do you know when people lived on the streets and didn’t use bathrooms inside?” he said. “It’s called the Dark Ages.”

Needless to say, Mr. Giuliani did not pause and follow up that remark with, “And how disgraceful that so many centuries later we are still not able to house all of our neediest.”

He instead went on to remind us how in the 1990s, his “brain” and Police Commissioner William J. Bratton’s “people” got rid of the homeless, the panhandlers, the nuisances. “You chase ’em and you chase ’em and you chase ’em and you chase ’em, and they either get the treatment that they need or you chase ’em out of the city.”

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