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Turnstile Jumpers and Broken Windows: Policing Disorder in New York City (From Zero Tolerance: Quality of Life and the New Police Brutality in New York City, P 19-49, 2001, Andrea McArdle and Tanya Erzen, eds. -- See NCJ-188321)

NCJ Number
Tanya Erzen
Date Published
31 pages
This paper profiles and critiques New York City's Quality of Life campaign, which targets "disorder" offenses in the belief that this reduces more serious crime.
The campaign's premise is two-pronged. First, the same people who jump a subway turnstile or wash a windshield uninvited may very well be felons and robbers, rapists and burglars. Second, a broken window, a trash-strewn street, or a homeless person asleep on a bench symbolize disorder. This disorder initiates a snowball effect, whereby drug dealers, vandals, and other urban predators begin to engulf a neighborhood. The actual Quality of Life enforcement options consist of a list of 25 offenses that include panhandling; window washing; leaving property such as mattresses, shacks, or structures on public streets; the removal of residential trash; urinating in public; disorderly behavior on park department property; disorderly behavior in transit facilities; public consumption of alcoholic beverages; operation of a sound-reproduction device without a permit; street vending without a permit; public lewdness; open fires; unreasonable noise; and loud motorcycles. Although they are not named explicitly, homeless men and women have been the most obvious targets of the Quality of Life campaign and are the most likely to be considered the visual and social emblems of disorder. Further, the Public Lewdness code has been used to target gay men in an arbitrary and homophobic manner. Despite the campaign's avowals of sensitivity to neighborhoods, surveillance of disorderly behavior has taken the place of actual mutual collaboration between officers and residents of a neighborhood, which is a basic tenet of community policing. Also, as a result of Quality of Life policing and surveillance, more people have become targets of harassment and violence by police officers, who are driven to make as many arrests as possible. By handing over the informal power to define deviance to police officers and some community members, New Yorkers have relinquished their right to live in a democratic and diverse city. 55 notes and appended selections from the NYPD Quality of Life Enforcement Options Reference guide for police officers