NYC mayor right to restore "Broken Window" policing

(AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)

Broken window policing is where law enforcement focuses on lesser crimes in an effort to deal with greater ones. The idea is basically that violent crime doesn’t erupt in a vacuum. It starts small, then builds.

Further, violent criminals are rarely just violent criminals. They’re also thieves, gamblers, or any number of other things.

Folks with no respect for the law aren’t like to respect any law.

New York City had great results with their efforts along those lines, but over time, it was deemed racist and officials put an end to the practice. Now, with crime soaring, it’s back.

Mayor Adams has been under fire for it, too.

However, the editorial board at the New York Post has his back.

All too predictably, the Legal Aid Society is attacking the NYPD’s renewed “quality of life” policing.

The direly needed shift targets such violations as selling pot, dice games, public drinking and urination, criminal trespass, fare evasion and other acts that Commissioner Keechant Sewell all too rightly calls “precursors for violence.”

Cue a Legal Aid Society study purporting to show that the effort will be racially discriminatory. It uses 2021 data indicating that the vast majority of those arrested for such offenses were black and Hispanic, and so provided fodder for the usual suspects on the City Council to assail top police brass.

Guess what word is missing from Legal Aid’s study? Victim.

Yet black New Yorkers, about 24% of the city population, make up the vast majority of serious crime victims: 65% of those murdered in 2020, and 74% of shooting victims.

Add in Hispanics (29% of the city, though many are also black): In 2019, 88% of murder victims were black or Hispanic, along with 74% of rape victims, 69% of robbery victims and nearly 80% of felony assault victims.And the breakdowns don’t change much as crime soars.

While I get concern over racial disparity in who is being arrested, it seems that there are other ways to address that.

For most New Yorkers, the people who voted for Adams and his “tough on crime” rhetoric, a return to broken window policing is probably welcome. After all, I think most New Yorkers are willing to give up taking a leak in public in exchange for not being shot on a street corner.

I mean, I could be wrong–these are New Yorkers we’re talking about here–but I don’t think I am.

The truth of the matter is that law enforcement did this before and it worked. There’s no reason to believe it won’t work again.

As the New York Post editorial board notes, the victims of these violent crimes aren’t white, upper-middle-class folks. It’s other minorities. To say that broken window policing is racist is to condone the assault and murder of numerous minorities. If disparate outcomes are racist, then so is this.

If New Yorkers want their streets cleaned up, they need to accept anything that doesn’t infringe on people’s rights that promises to clean them up. Broken window-based efforts arrest people for actual crimes and deals with them in a way that also helps reduce more significant criminal activity. It’s not an infringement, it’s just common sense.