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Beyond Zero Tolerance (From Policing: Key Readings, P 483-507, 2005, Tim Newburn, ed. -- See NCJ-208824)

NCJ Number
David Dixon
Date Published
In discussing the concept of "zero-tolerance" policing as applied to policing in New York City during a period of declining crime in that city, this chapter examines this concept in the context of policing in Australia, arguing that the concept obscures important and complex questions of evaluation, policy, and principle; the need for a new concept of policing is discussed.
"Zero tolerance" policing has become the label for three related policing strategies: a focus on disorder and street offenses so as to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods; focusing on visible disorder will reduce serious crime; and police engage in proactive policing that targets people, places, and property identified by risk-assessment techniques. This chapter has two objectives. First, it challenges the assumptions of the previous strategies based on empirical analysis, with attention to a critique of Kelling and Coles' "Fixing Broken Windows" (1996). Second, it comments on the focus and priorities of current developments in policing. The author argues that there is potential for crime control in the new strategies; however, criteria for success are inadequately formulated, and the need for police legitimacy with the public is misunderstood and not given sufficient priority. Sources for the critique include empirical studies of policing. In proposing an approach to policing that goes "beyond zero tolerance," this chapter suggests that relying on the police alone to address the many variables that contribute to crime, as is suggested in "zero tolerance," fails to acknowledge the complex mix of factors that contribute to various types of crime. What is required in new policing is an interdisciplinary, multi-agency development and implementation of strategies that address the key factors that fuel particular crime patterns. 36 notes and 96 references