Broken Window Theory Essay

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Barbara Oswald
3-31-2011
Sociology

      Broken-windows theory is the thought that when low levels of crime and disorder and deviance are not held in check, then more serious crime is likely to follow.   It was a theory proposed by Kelling in 1982.   The broken-windows theory has had an effect on policing in the past, and will play a role in how policing is done in the future.

      First let’s look at how the broken-windows theory has impacted policing in the past.   Broken-windows theory has suggested a way of thinking in the community.   Citizens feel safer when police departments conduct more foot patrols in the neighborhood, and feel the police were more aware of the crime that are occurring.   As time progressed into the adaptation of the motorized patrol, some people felt that the police had lost touch with the community and were not aware of the small underlying issues of the bigger crimes that occurred.

      Through the theory of broken-windows, a zero-tolerance style of policing was developed.   Some police departments, such as New York, implemented the zero tolerance style and claimed that it lowered their crime rates in the mid 1990’s.   The police became more arrest-oriented and focused on a more aggressive approach to crime control.   They would increase their traffic citations, arrests, and increase their contacts with citizens.

      However, one of the issues with the zero tolerance style of policing is that it can cause some undue harm to citizens.   By being too aggressive, it leads officers to become more suspicious of some people even though they may not deserve it, and can to lead to false arrests or abuse.

      In conclusion, the broken-windows theory has created the zero tolerance style of policing, and has leaded some citizens to believe that the police are not in touch...

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