The NYPD famously used the “broken windows” theory of crime control to crack down on ‘quality of life’ crimes in the early 90s, as the inroad for ‘cleaning up our city’ and paving the way for expanded elite control of New York City via rising rents, Business Improvement Districts and open hostility with undesireable elements of street life like vendors or the homeless.
The Wonkster reported on an interesting study on the theory that showed ‘quality of life’ crimes encouraging other quality of life crimes, but very rarely more serious crimes. The report demonstrates that the political popularity of the theory neccesarily derives from its protection of property owners who contribute significant sums to political campaigns and organizations like BIDs, rather than its relevancy as a serious crime-fighting technique. Additionally, the Wonkster points out that just because broken windows lead to more broken windows, this does not support the conclusion that police need to ‘crack down’ on property crime – less incarceration reliant responses might be more sensible and cost less in terms of people’s lives. Waging war on the folks that live on the street should not be the cost of a clean city.