Rethinking Broken Windows
The "broken windows" theory became something of a mantra in policy and policing in U.S. cities over the past two decades. New York City served as the poster child for the idea that beefed-up enforcement of minor quality of life issues would lead to big drops in more serious crime. But recent studies point to the fact that crime had peaked and was already on a steady downward trajectory well before those tactics were adopted, and that the decline did not speed up as a result of the approach. We explore how these findings might shake long-held beliefs about police tactics and urban crime.