In the early 90s New York City used to be known as the most dangerous city in America. Murders and muggings on the subway and in the city were the norm, the city routinely suffered 2000 murders per year!
Under the leadership of Rudy Giuliani overall crime was cut in half and murders dropped by 70%!!In fact, between 1993 and 1997, New York City accounted for 25% of the Nation’s total crime decline and the FBI recognized New York as the “Safest Large City in America.”
How did he do it? And can we do it here in Nassau?
Zero Tolerance! Now i know that you have probably heard the police throw this term around before. But i believe it was little understood and misapplied by them. I will break down the true theory behind zero tolerance, how it was misapplied by the police and how it can be applied to reduce crime in this country.
Zero Tolerance was coined because of the methods suggested in a theory dubbed “Broken Windows”. The “Broken Windows” theory is based on the idea that disorderly behavior breeds bad behavior and fixing it at its basic level can help prevent crime.
“Broken Windows” was explained in an article which was first published by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling in the March 1982 edition of The Atlantic Monthly.
Social psychologists and police officers tend to agree that if a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken. one unrepaired broken window is a signal that no one cares, and so breaking more windows costs nothing.
So should the government just ensure that there are no broken windows in Nassau? Lol, no. It is used as a metaphor. Basically Small things leads to big things.
The idea is simple and compelling. A broken window, or a littered sidewalk, graffiti, or whatever you like, does no great harm to a neighborhood if promptly addressed.
But left untended, it sends a signal: that no one cares about this neighborhood, that it is a safe place to break things, to litter, to vandalize. Those who engage in such behaviors will feel safe here.
And once these minor miscreants have become well established, perhaps it will seem a safe enough neighborhood in which to be openly drunk, in which to beg for money, and possibly extort it. In short the smallest symptoms of antisocial behavior will, left to fester, breed greater and greater crimes, all the way down to murder.
Does it sound logical? The fact is that Nassau has not always been this bad, but because we have let the little things slide over the years, Nassau has gotten progressively worst.
Can you deny that criminals have gotten bolder and more callous over the years. While writing this article, i received a call that a man carrying a child was fatally shot in Solomon’s parking lot. The child was also shot.
News like this makes me angry and even though i wrote this post calling the death penalty overrated, i feel the desire to have these callous criminals hanged. But i recognize that that is not a true solution.
What I’m proposing here can be a huge part of the true solution. Broken windows theory applied correctly CAN help solve our crime problem. You may be tempted to brush this off as trivial. But before you do consider the following;
- 70% drop in murder
- 23.4% drop in rape
- 29.9% drop in felony assault
- 54.6% drop in robbery
- 53.2% drop in burglary
- 40.0% drop in grand larceny
- 61.2% drop in car thefts
- The City’s homicide rate is at its lowest level since 1964
- According to FBI statistics, between 1993 and 1997, NYC crime reduction accounted for a full 25 percent of the nation’s drop in crime
These were New York City’s crime statistics at the end of Giuliani’s term.
Still think we can’t use Broken Windows theory in Nassau?
This is Part 1 of 2 on how we can use broken windows theory to reduce crime in Nassau. Subscribe (it’s free) to get part2 as soon as i publish it.