Broken Window concept and its connection to social disorder
In the context of the ?broken windows? metaphor, proposed by James Q. Wilson and Dr. Kelling in 1982 in The Atlantic Monthly, this Research Report details how an officer?s sensitive role in order maintenance and crime prevention extends far beyond just arresting lawbreakers how discretion exists at every level of the police organization. Historically, police have asserted authority in many ways, often having nothing to do with arrest. Dr. Kelling takes a special interest in the use of discretion to exercise the core police authority, enforcement of the law. Also in 1982 we argued that police departments should return to their ancient tradition of maintaining public order as well as fighting serious crime. The urban American public was upset by signs of disorder such as graffiti, public drunks, aggressive panhandlers, street corner drug dealers and hostile gangs of youth. When the police were first formed in American cities they took such matters seriously, but as other agencies developed that supposedly were interested in human distress, and with the rise in serious crime rates, the police increasingly confined themselves to investigating offenses.
Police departments throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, England, and elsewhere in Europe, have begun to reemphasize the maintenance of public order as an essential aspect of police work. Police activities to restore public order in New York City and its subway system, for instance, have received extensive publicity and professional attention. So, too, has the ?broken windows? metaphor as it has been closely linked to New York City (Wilson, J.Q & Kelling, G.L. 1996).
During the 1960s, policing in the United States was profoundly affected by converging social, political, and professional and occupational forces. These forces included the triumph of progressivism as a model for local government and the installation of preventive patrol and rapid response as conceived by O.W. Wilson and other police reformers as the model of effective, efficient, and honest policing. At the same time, the rights revolution had a major impact on society?s response to mental illness, drunkenness, vagrancy, and disorderly behavior. These social forces also created the ?criminal justice system? with the police as its front end and a criminal justice educational establishment that promulgated the ideas inherent in the ?system.?
Also in the 1960s shaped a surprisingly congruent police strategy that, while not adhered to universally, nonetheless constituted the official strategy of progressive mid-century American police. Policing became synonymous with law enforcement in which police should be out or should get out of the business of dealing with emotionally disturbed individuals, youths, and the problems of drunkenness, disorderly behavior, and minor offenses.
In the name of eliminating corrupt political influences from policing, these men attempted to change the nature of the business from crime prevention to reactive law enforcement. They restructured police organizations, revised administrative processes, developed new tactics, and redefined the relationship between police and citizens each, more or less successfully all with an eye toward gaining administrative control of police, whether field commanders, supervisors, or patrol officers (Kelling, G. L., & Moore M.H.,1988). Community policing is inherently proactive: scan for problems; diagnose them; try to prevent them from occurring again; if they recur, try to limit the damage and restore the victim/family/community?s functioning.
The broken windows idea does two things, one indisputably good and the other probably effective: It encourages the police to take public order seriously, something that the overwhelming majority of people ardently desire, and it raises the possibility that more order will mean less crime. The first goal requires no evidence. The second does, and so far most studies suggest that more public order (along with other factors) is associated with less predatory street crime. With all this in mind, we believe that it remains a strategy worth pursuing.
Today, the ideas regarding the complexity of police work and the ubiquity of discretion that are inherent in research conducted about police functioning during the 1950s through the 1970s have permeated police and academic thinking. Police culture and the profession have changed dramatically as a result. The demand for order that grew in cities during the 1980s and early 1990s, however, thrust police back into the middle of the social, legal, moral, and constitutional issues they had tried to avoid. The publication of ?Broken Windows? first popularized the link between disorder and fear and hypothesized the links among disorder, fear, crime, and