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Broken Windows: The Police and Neighborhood Safety (From Criminal Justice System: Politics and Policies, Seventh Edition, P 103-115, 1998, George F. Cole and Marc G. Gertz, eds. -- See NCJ-185991)

NCJ Number
James Q. Wilson; George L. Kelling
Date Published
13 pages
The role of the police in the United States is re-examined in this article; after almost half a century of emphasis on professionalism, crime control, and efficiency, the authors contend there should be a shift in police patrol strategy toward a focus on order maintenance and community accountability.
In several jurisdictions, police patrols have elevated the level of public order in neighborhoods even though crime rates may not have declined. This is at least in part due to the fact that disorder and crime are usually inextricably linked at the community level. Social psychologists and police officers tend to agree that if a window in a building is broken and is not repaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken. The impact of urban decay on crime and the connection between public disorder and fear of crime are discussed. The effectiveness of police patrols in maintaining public order is addressed, with emphasis on the police role in reinforcing informal control mechanisms of the community. The role of citizen patrols in maintaining public order is also considered, but the authors believe police patrols are the key to order maintenance.