William Bratton is the two time Commissioner of the NYPD and if he seems enlightened at all it’s simply by comparison with his predecessor- convicted felon Bernard Kerik (“In 2009 Kerik pleaded guilty before U.S. federal prosecutors to 8 charges including criminal conspiracy, tax fraud, and lying under oath. Kerik was sentenced to four years in federal prison on February 18, 2010.”).
While not the first person to espouse the “Broken Windows” doctrine of policing (strict enforcement of minor “quality of life” regulations will reduce major crimes) he is certainly closely associated with the movement and is one of its most public advocates.
Like Neo-Liberal Economics and Charter Schools what we find in this real life experiment that has ruined millions of lives is that it’s hardly effective at all, provides myriad opportunities for graft and corruption, and is mostly merely thinly veiled racism.
The NYPD’s ‘Work Stoppage’ Is Surreal
By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
December 31, 2014
Furious at embattled mayor Bill de Blasio, and at what Police Benevolent Association chief Patrick Lynch calls a “hostile anti-police environment in the city,” the local officers are simply refusing to arrest or ticket people for minor offenses – such arrests have dropped off a staggering 94 percent, with overall arrests plunging 66 percent.
If you’re wondering exactly what that means, the Post is reporting that the protesting police have decided to make arrests “only when they have to.” (Let that sink in for a moment. Seriously, take 10 or 15 seconds).
Substantively that mostly means a steep drop-off in parking tickets, but also a major drop in tickets for quality-of-life offenses like carrying open containers of alcohol or public urination.
I don’t know any police officer anywhere who would refuse to arrest a truly dangerous criminal as part of a PBA-led political gambit. So the essence of this protest seems now to be about trying to hit de Blasio where it hurts, i.e. in the budget, without actually endangering the public.
So this police protest, unwittingly, is leading to the exposure of the very policies that anger so many different constituencies about modern law-enforcement tactics.
First, it shines a light on the use of police officers to make up for tax shortfalls using ticket and citation revenue. Then there’s the related (and significantly more important) issue of forcing police to make thousands of arrests and issue hundreds of thousands of summonses when they don’t “have to.”
It’s incredibly ironic that the police have chosen to abandon quality-of-life actions like public urination tickets and open-container violations, because it’s precisely these types of interactions that are at the heart of the Broken Windows polices that so infuriate residents of so-called “hot spot” neighborhoods.
It would be amazing if this NYPD protest somehow brought parties on all sides to a place where we could all agree that policing should just go back to a policy of officers arresting people “when they have to.”
Because it’s wrong to put law enforcement in the position of having to make up for budget shortfalls with parking tickets, and it’s even more wrong to ask its officers to soak already cash-strapped residents of hot spot neighborhoods with mountains of summonses as part of a some stats-based crime-reduction strategy.
Both policies make people pissed off at police for the most basic and understandable of reasons: if you’re running into one, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to end up opening your wallet.
Your average summons for a QOL offense costs more than an ordinary working person makes in a day driving a bus, waiting tables, or sweeping floors. So every time you nail somebody, you’re literally ruining their whole day.
If I were a police officer, I’d hate to be taking money from people all day long, too. Christ, that’s worse than being a dentist. So under normal circumstances, this slowdown wouldn’t just make sense, it would be heroic.
Unfortunately, this protest is not about police refusing to shake people down for money on principle.
You may recognize this “revenue extraction policing” from Ferguson, Missouri.
Police Reportedly Say They Aren’t Making Arrests After Cop Killings
By Simon McCormack, The Huffington Post
12/30/2014 10:00 pm EST
But the drop in arrests could be worse news for NYPD Chief Bill Bratton than it is for those protesting police misconduct.
Bratton helped pioneer the “broken windows” approach of policing. Proponents of the broken windows theory believe that law enforcement cracking down on low-level offenses leads to a drop in more serious crimes.
The theory is controversial and its effectiveness has been repeatedly cast into doubt.
Even criminologist James Q. Wilson, one of the originators of the broken windows theory, describes it as “a speculation.”
“I still to this day do not know if improving order will or will not reduce crime,” Wilson said in 2004.
Those who have protested the recent deaths of Eric Garner and other African-Americans at the hands of police have explicitly criticized broken windows policing.
It was an attempt to arrest Eric Garner for the low-level offense of allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes that, a coroner’s report said, led to his death.
At a rally earlier this month, the chant, “Broken windows, broken lives,” could be heard echoing in the streets.
The Benefits of Fewer NYPD Arrests
Matt Ford, The Atlantic
Dec 31 2014, 9:21 AM ET
But the police union’s phrasing-officers shouldn’t make arrests “unless absolutely necessary”-begs the question: How many unnecessary arrests was the NYPD making before now?
Policing quality doesn’t necessarily increase with policing quantity, as New York’s experience with stop-and-frisk demonstrated. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg asserted that the controversial tactic of warrantless street searches “keeps New York City safe.” De Blasio ended the program soon after succeeding him, citing its discriminatory impact on black and Hispanic residents. Stop-and-frisk incidents plunged from 685,724 stops in 2011 to just 38,456 in the first three-quarters of 2014 as a result. If stop-and-frisk had caused the ongoing decline in New York’s crime rate, its near-absence would logically halt or even reverse that trend. But the city seems to be doing just fine without it: Crime rates are currently at two-decade lows, with homicide down 7 percent and robberies down 14 percent since 2013.
The slowdown also challenges the fundamental tenets of broken-windows policing, a controversial strategy championed by NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton. According to the theory, which first came to prominence in a 1982 article in The Atlantic, “quality-of-life” crimes like vandalism and vagrancy help normalize criminal behavior in neighborhoods and precede more violent offenses. Tackling these low-level offenses therefore helps prevent future ones. The theory’s critics dispute its effectiveness and contend that broken-windows policing simply criminalizes the young, the poor, and the homeless.
Public drinking and urination may be unseemly, but they’re hardly threats to life, liberty, or public order. (The Post also noted a decline in drug arrests, but their comparison of 2013 and 2014 rates is misleading. The mayor’s office announced in November that police would stop making arrests for low-level marijuana possession and issue tickets instead. Even before the slowdown began, marijuana-related arrests had declined by 61 percent.) If the NYPD can safely cut arrests by two-thirds, why haven’t they done it before?
The human implications of this question are immense. Fewer arrests for minor crimes logically means fewer people behind bars for minor crimes. Poorer would-be defendants benefit the most; three-quarters of those sitting in New York jails are only there because they can’t afford bail. Fewer New Yorkers will also be sent to Rikers Island, where endemic brutality against inmates has led to resignations, arrests, and an imminent federal civil-rights intervention over the past six months. A brush with the American criminal-justice system can be toxic for someone’s socioeconomic and physical health.
The NYPD might benefit from fewer unnecessary arrests, too. Tensions between the mayor and the police unions originally intensified after a grand jury failed to indict a NYPD officer for the chokehold death of Eric Garner during an arrest earlier this year. Garner’s arrest wasn’t for murder or arson or bank robbery, but on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes-hardly the most serious of crimes. Maybe the NYPD’s new “absolutely necessary” standard for arrests would have produced a less tragic outcome for Garner then. Maybe it will for future Eric Garners too.
Oh, and speaking of false economies, New York City spends some Tens of Millions each year in private settlements of Police Brutality cases to place the abused victims under gag orders and ensure Police are not prosecuted.
“Broken Windows Policing”, like the rest of the Neo-Liberal agenda, is a complete, utter, and proven failure. As I said yesterday–
After 10 years you should know me better. The class war is raging all around you, naked in tooth and claw. Our elite overlords are just as corrupt, stupid, and evil as the Ancien Régime and deserve the same contempt. Each year I make only one resolution-
To be even more obnoxious.
Happy New Year!