Thacher on Problem with “Broken Windows” Policing (PBS Frontline)
In a story that aired on June 28 on Frontline (broadcast on PBS), Associate Professor of Public Policy and Urban Planning David Thacher discussed the shortcomings of the widespread “Broken Windows” approach to quelling civil disobedience. The term refers to a theoretical construct developed in the early 1980s that uses an analogy of a broken window, which left unrepaired is a signal of apathy and will thus lead to disorder and more crime, to encourage a closer relationship between police and their community. A policy known as Broken Windows – recognizing and addressing small crimes in the hopes of averting larger ones – has been adopted by police forces around the country, most notably in New York City. Later studies have indicated that the incidence of punishment for misdemeanors has had little or no effect on the rate of commission of more serious crimes. Thacher noted in his interview that the practice loses effectiveness through the assumption that small crimes necessarily lead to large ones, creating distrust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
Read the transcript here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/the- problem-with- broken-windows- policing/