Select Page

We have discussed neighborhood disorder and how this might affect perceptions of crime and safety in the neighborhood. After watching Sidewalk, respond to the following questions:Explain the “Broken Windows” theory. What do you think about this theory? How does broken windows theory relate to the book vendors depicted in Sidewalk? What observations did you make about race and social stratification during the film? What patterns emerged between the vendors and passersby? What (if any) stereotypes were applied to the vendors?Are the book vendors engaging in crime? Why or why not? Should they be allowed to engage in an activity associated with the underground (informal) economy? What impact do the vendors have on the neighborhood? Defend your answer with specific examples or theories discussed in class.Film: Sidewalk (Watch (part 1; part 2; part 3) please watch the first 2 parts and watch 13 minutes only from part 3)Use the film as main source also use attached files as sources as well then use outside sources650- 850 Words, APA STYLE


Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
CRJ 405 Neighborhood and Crime Essay
Just from $10/Page
Order Essay


Unformatted Attachment Preview

Broken Windows – George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson – The Atlantic
1 of 12…
Print | Close
By George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson
In the mid-1970s The State of New Jersey announced a “Safe and Clean Neighborhoods Program,”
designed to improve the quality of community life in twenty-eight cities. As part of that program, the
state provided money to help cities take police officers out of their patrol cars and assign them to
walking beats. The governor and other state officials were enthusiastic about using foot patrol as a way
of cutting crime, but many police chiefs were skeptical. Foot patrol, in their eyes, had been pretty much
discredited. It reduced the mobility of the police, who thus had difficulty responding to citizen calls for
service, and it weakened headquarters control over patrol officers.
Many police officers also disliked foot patrol, but for different reasons: it was hard work, it kept them
outside on cold, rainy nights, and it reduced their chances for making a “good pinch.” In some
departments, assigning officers to foot patrol had been used as a form of punishment. And academic
experts on policing doubted that foot patrol would have any impact on crime rates; it was, in the
opinion of most, little more than a sop to public opinion. But since the state was paying for it, the local
authorities were willing to go along.
8/18/2014 9:53 AM
Broken Windows – George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson – The Atlantic
2 of 12…
Five years after the program started, the Police Foundation, in Washington, D.C., published an
evaluation of the foot-patrol project. Based on its analysis of a carefully controlled experiment carried
out chiefly in Newark, the foundation concluded, to the surprise of hardly anyone, that foot patrol had
not reduced crime rates. But residents of the foot patrolled neighborhoods seemed to feel more secure
than persons in other areas, tended to believe that crime had been reduced, and seemed to take fewer
steps to protect themselves from crime (staying at home with the doors locked, for example).
Moreover, citizens in the foot-patrol areas had a more favorable opinion of the police than did those
living elsewhere. And officers walking beats had higher morale, greater job satisfaction, and a more
favorable attitude toward citizens in their neighborhoods than did officers assigned to patrol cars.
These findings may be taken as evidence that the skeptics were right- foot patrol has no effect on
crime; it merely fools the citizens into thinking that they are safer. But in our view, and in the view of
the authors of the Police Foundation study (of whom Kelling was one), the citizens of Newark were not
fooled at all. They knew what the foot-patrol officers were doing, they knew it was different from what
motorized officers do, and they knew that having officers walk beats did in fact make their
neighborhoods safer.
But how can a neighborhood be “safer” when the crime rate has not gone down—in fact, may have gone
up? Finding the answer requires first that we understand what most often frightens people in public
places. Many citizens, of course, are primarily frightened by crime, especially crime involving a sudden,
violent attack by a stranger. This risk is very real, in Newark as in many large cities. But we tend to
overlook another source of fear—the fear of being bothered by disorderly people. Not violent people,
nor, necessarily, criminals, but disreputable or obstreperous or unpredictable people: panhandlers,
drunks, addicts, rowdy teenagers, prostitutes, loiterers, the mentally disturbed.
What foot-patrol officers did was to elevate, to the extent they could, the level of public order in these
neighborhoods. Though the neighborhoods were predominantly black and the foot patrolmen were
mostly white, this “order-maintenance” function of the police was performed to the general satisfaction
of both parties.
One of us (Kelling) spent many hours walking with Newark foot-patrol officers to see how they defined
“order” and what they did to maintain it. One beat was typical: a busy but dilapidated area in the heart
of Newark, with many abandoned buildings, marginal shops (several of which prominently displayed
knives and straight-edged razors in their windows), one large department store, and, most important, a
train station and several major bus stops. Though the area was run-down, its streets were filled with
people, because it was a major transportation center. The good order of this area was important not
only to those who lived and worked there but also to many others, who had to move through it on their
way home, to supermarkets, or to factories.
The people on the street were primarily black; the officer who walked the street was white. The people
were made up of “regulars” and “strangers.” Regulars included both “decent folk” and some drunks and
derelicts who were always there but who “knew their place.” Strangers were, well, strangers, and
viewed suspiciously, sometimes apprehensively. The officer—call him Kelly—knew who the regulars
were, and they knew him. As he saw his job, he was to keep an eye on strangers, and make certain that
the disreputable regulars observed some informal but widely understood rules. Drunks and addicts
could sit on the stoops, but could not lie down. People could drink on side streets, but not at the main
8/18/2014 9:53 AM
Broken Windows – George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson – The Atlantic
3 of 12…
intersection. Bottles had to be in paper bags. Talking to, bothering, or begging from people waiting at
the bus stop was strictly forbidden. If a dispute erupted between a businessman and a customer, the
businessman was assumed to be right, especially if the customer was a stranger. If a stranger loitered,
Kelly would ask him if he had any means of support and what his business was; if he gave
unsatisfactory answers, he was sent on his way. Persons who broke the informal rules, especially those
who bothered people waiting at bus stops, were arrested for vagrancy. Noisy teenagers were told to
keep quiet.
These rules were defined and enforced in collaboration with the “regulars” on the street. Another
neighborhood might have different rules, but these, everybody understood, were the rules for this
neighborhood. If someone violated them, the regulars not only turned to Kelly for help but also
ridiculed the violator. Sometimes what Kelly did could be described as “enforcing the law,” but just as
often it involved taking informal or extralegal steps to help protect what the neighborhood had decided
was the appropriate level of public order. Some of the things he did probably would not withstand a
legal challenge.
A determined skeptic might acknowledge that a skilled foot-patrol officer can maintain order but still
insist that this sort of “order” has little to do with the real sources of community fear—that is, with
violent crime. To a degree, that is true. But two things must be borne in mind. First, outside observers
should not assume that they know how much of the anxiety now endemic in many big-city
neighborhoods stems from a fear of “real” crime and how much from a sense that the street is
disorderly, a source of distasteful, worrisome encounters. The people of Newark, to judge from their
behavior and their remarks to interviewers, apparently assign a high value to public order, and feel
relieved and reassured when the police help them maintain that order.
Second, at the community level, disorder and crime are usually inextricably linked, in a kind of
developmental sequence. 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. This is as true
in nice neighborhoods as in rundown ones. Window-breaking does not necessarily occur on a large
scale because some areas are inhabited by determined window-breakers whereas others are populated
by window-lovers; rather, one unrepaired broken window is a signal that no one cares, and so breaking
more windows costs nothing. (It has always been fun.)
Philip Zimbardo, a Stanford psychologist, reported in 1969 on some experiments testing the brokenwindow theory. He arranged to have an automobile without license plates parked with its hood up on a
street in the Bronx and a comparable automobile on a street in Palo Alto, California. The car in the
Bronx was attacked by “vandals” within ten minutes of its “abandonment.” The first to arrive were a
family—father, mother, and young son—who removed the radiator and battery. Within twenty-four
hours, virtually everything of value had been removed. Then random destruction began—windows
were smashed, parts torn off, upholstery ripped. Children began to use the car as a playground. Most of
the adult “vandals” were well-dressed, apparently clean-cut whites. The car in Palo Alto sat untouched
for more than a week. Then Zimbardo smashed part of it with a sledgehammer. Soon, passersby were
joining in. Within a few hours, the car had been turned upside down and utterly destroyed. Again, the
“vandals” appeared to be primarily respectable whites.
Untended property becomes fair game for people out for fun or plunder and even for people who
8/18/2014 9:53 AM
Broken Windows – George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson – The Atlantic
4 of 12…
ordinarily would not dream of doing such things and who probably consider themselves law-abiding.
Because of the nature of community life in the Bronx—its anonymity, the frequency with which cars are
abandoned and things are stolen or broken, the past experience of “no one caring”—vandalism begins
much more quickly than it does in staid Palo Alto, where people have come to believe that private
possessions are cared for, and that mischievous behavior is costly. But vandalism can occur anywhere
once communal barriers—the sense of mutual regard and the obligations of civility—are lowered by
actions that seem to signal that “no one cares.”
We suggest that “untended” behavior also leads to the breakdown of community controls. A stable
neighborhood of families who care for their homes, mind each other’s children, and confidently frown
on unwanted intruders can change, in a few years or even a few months, to an inhospitable and
frightening jungle. A piece of property is abandoned, weeds grow up, a window is smashed. Adults stop
scolding rowdy children; the children, emboldened, become more rowdy. Families move out,
unattached adults move in. Teenagers gather in front of the corner store. The merchant asks them to
move; they refuse. Fights occur. Litter accumulates. People start drinking in front of the grocery; in
time, an inebriate slumps to the sidewalk and is allowed to sleep it off. Pedestrians are approached by
At this point it is not inevitable that serious crime will flourish or violent attacks on strangers will
occur. But many residents will think that crime, especially violent crime, is on the rise, and they will
modify their behavior accordingly. They will use the streets less often, and when on the streets will stay
apart from their fellows, moving with averted eyes, silent lips, and hurried steps. “Don’t get involved.”
For some residents, this growing atomization will matter little, because the neighborhood is not their
“home” but “the place where they live.” Their interests are elsewhere; they are cosmopolitans. But it
will matter greatly to other people, whose lives derive meaning and satisfaction from local attachments
rather than worldly involvement; for them, the neighborhood will cease to exist except for a few
reliable friends whom they arrange to meet.
Such an area is vulnerable to criminal invasion. Though it is not inevitable, it is more likely that here,
rather than in places where people are confident they can regulate public behavior by informal
controls, drugs will change hands, prostitutes will solicit, and cars will be stripped. That the drunks will
be robbed by boys who do it as a lark, and the prostitutes’ customers will be robbed by men who do it
purposefully and perhaps violently. That muggings will occur.
Among those who often find it difficult to move away from this are the elderly. Surveys of citizens
suggest that the elderly are much less likely to be the victims of crime than younger persons, and some
have inferred from this that the well-known fear of crime voiced by the elderly is an exaggeration:
perhaps we ought not to design special programs to protect older persons; perhaps we should even try
to talk them out of their mistaken fears. This argument misses the point. The prospect of a
confrontation with an obstreperous teenager or a drunken panhandler can be as fear-inducing for
defenseless persons as the prospect of meeting an actual robber; indeed, to a defenseless person, the
two kinds of confrontation are often indistinguishable. Moreover, the lower rate at which the elderly
are victimized is a measure of the steps they have already taken—chiefly, staying behind locked
doors—to minimize the risks they face. Young men are more frequently attacked than older women,
not because they are easier or more lucrative targets but because they are on the streets more.
8/18/2014 9:53 AM
Broken Windows – George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson – The Atlantic
5 of 12…
Nor is the connection between disorderliness and fear made only by the elderly. Susan Estrich, of the
Harvard Law School, has recently gathered together a number of surveys on the sources of public fear.
One, done in Portland, Oregon, indicated that three fourths of the adults interviewed cross to the other
side of a street when they see a gang of teenagers; another survey, in Baltimore, discovered that nearly
half would cross the street to avoid even a single strange youth. When an interviewer asked people in a
housing project where the most dangerous spot was, they mentioned a place where young persons
gathered to drink and play music, despite the fact that not a single crime had occurred there. In Boston
public housing projects, the greatest fear was expressed by persons living in the buildings where
disorderliness and incivility, not crime, were the greatest. Knowing this helps one understand the
significance of such otherwise harmless displays as subway graffiti. As Nathan Glazer has written, the
proliferation of graffiti, even when not obscene, confronts the subway rider with the inescapable
knowledge that the environment he must endure for an hour or more a day is uncontrolled and
uncontrollable, and that anyone can invade it to do whatever damage and mischief the mind suggests.”
In response to fear people avoid one another, weakening controls. Sometimes they call the police.
Patrol cars arrive, an occasional arrest occurs but crime continues and disorder is not abated. Citizens
complain to the police chief, but he explains that his department is low on personnel and that the
courts do not punish petty or first-time offenders. To the residents, the police who arrive in squad cars
are either ineffective or uncaring: to the police, the residents are animals who deserve each other. The
citizens may soon stop calling the police, because “they can’t do anything.”
The process we call urban decay has occurred for centuries in every city. But what is happening today is
different in at least two important respects. First, in the period before, say, World War II, city dwellersbecause of money costs, transportation difficulties, familial and church connections—could rarely
move away from neighborhood problems. When movement did occur, it tended to be along publictransit routes. Now mobility has become exceptionally easy for all but the poorest or those who are
blocked by racial prejudice. Earlier crime waves had a kind of built-in self-correcting mechanism: the
determination of a neighborhood or community to reassert control over its turf. Areas in Chicago, New
York, and Boston would experience crime and gang wars, and then normalcy would return, as the
families for whom no alternative residences were possible reclaimed their authority over the streets.
Second, the police in this earlier period assisted in that reassertion of authority by acting, sometimes
violently, on behalf of the community. Young toughs were roughed up, people were arrested “on
suspicion” or for vagrancy, and prostitutes and petty thieves were routed. “Rights” were something
enjoyed by decent folk, and perhaps also by the serious professional criminal, who avoided violence
and could afford a lawyer.
This pattern of policing was not an aberration or the result of occasional excess. From the earliest days
of the nation, the police function was seen primarily as that of a night watchman: to maintain order
against the chief threats to order—fire, wild animals, and disreputable behavior. Solving crimes was
viewed not as a police responsibility but as a private one. In the March, 1969, Atlantic, one of us
(Wilson) wrote a brief account of how the police role had slowly changed from maintaining order to
fighting crimes. The change began with the creation of private detectives (often ex-criminals), who
worked on a contingency-fee basis for individuals who had suffered losses. In time, the detectives were
absorbed in municipal agencies and paid a regular salary simultaneously, the responsibility for
8/18/2014 9:53 AM
Broken Windows – George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson – The Atlantic
6 of 12…
prosecuting thieves was shifted from the aggrieved private citizen to the professional prosecutor. This
process was not complete in most places until the twentieth century.
In the l960s, when urban riots were a major problem, social scientists began to explore carefully the
order maintenance function of the police, and to suggest ways of improving it—not to make streets
safer (its original function) but to reduce the incidence of mass violence. Order maintenance became,
to a degree, coterminous with “community relations.” But, as the crime wave that began in the early
l960s continued without abatement throughout the decade and into the 1970s, attention shifted to the
role of the police as crime-fighters. Studies of police behavior ceased, by and large, to be accounts of
the order-maintenance function and became, instead, efforts to propose and test ways whereby the
police could solve more crimes, make more arrests, and gather better evidence. If these things could be
done, social scientists assumed, citizens would be less fearful.
A great deal was accomplished during this transition, as both police chiefs and outside experts
emphasized the crime-fighting function in their plans, in the allocation of resources, and in
deployment of personnel. The police may well have become better crime-fighters as a result. And
doubtless they remained aware of their responsibility for order. But the link between ordermaintenance and crime-prevention, so obvious to earlier generations, was forgotten.
That link is similar to the process whereby one broken window becomes many. The citizen who fears
the ill-smelling drunk, the rowdy teenager, or the importuning beggar is not merely expressing his
distaste for unseemly behavior; he is also giving voice to a bit of folk wisdom that happens to be a
correct generalization—namely, that serious street crime flourishes in areas in which disorderly
behavior goes unchecked. The unchecked panhandler is, in effect, …
Purchase answer to see full

Order your essay today and save 10% with the discount code ESSAYHSELP