Monday, February 11, 2013

Study Pokes Holes In Broken Windows Policing

Criminologists and other scientists that study crime have been offering a lot of differing reasons why crime is down. I've seen quite a number of articles that looked specifically at the decline of crime in New York City and offered varying explanations on why crime dropped. The Atlantic Cities had a piece on a recent study published in Justice Quarterly that casts doubt on a number of theories behind the decline. 
That conclusion, based on a paper recently published in the journal Justice Quarterly, is a pretty jarring one. It challenges widely held narratives of how New York won its war on crime. But it also raises awkward questions about the efficacy of certain police tactics everywhere, particularly "broken windows." ("It’s a curiosity," Greenberg adds, "that this name got attached to what the New York Police Department was doing, because the police never went after broken windows"). 
Via The Atlantic Cities
It's unfortunate that the paper itself is behind a paywall. Regardless, I think that academics are going to be arguing over this one for quite some time to come.


  1. While I have not read this, I have read Zimring's The City that Became Safe, and I am quite positive that his research, which reaches the opposite conclusion, is equally compelling. Which is right? It reminds me of the cigarette scene from Woody Allen's Sleeper. (Anyone young enough not to get that reference can probably look it up on IMDB.)

  2. Tim, I don't necessarily agree on the paper's conclusions. In fact, the only thing I do know for sure is that no one can seem to agree on why crime is down. I don't think we're going to get an answer to that question anytime soon either. Or at least an answer everyone can agree on.


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