A Critical Analysis of the ‘Broken Windows’ Policing in New York City and Its Impact: Implications for the Criminal Justice System and the African American Community
The broken windows approach is an aggressive crime fighting strategy instituted in New York City in the 1990s, emphasizing mass arrest of perpetrators of major as well as minor offenses. The impact resulted in disproportionate arrest of Black and Hispanic youths in comparison with Caucasians. Critics of broken windows strategy maintain that its success is exaggerated and oversold. They argue that the decline in crime in the city was not a consequence of the strategy, but due to improved economy, declining numbers of teenage males, and the decline in crack cocaine use. The broken windows strategy in fact yielded unintended consequences and other collateral effects because of its negative impact on the racial minorities. Furthermore, it created enormous financial burden on the criminal justice system by diverting limited resources for social programs to punishment and incarceration, thus undermining the traditional police-community emphasis of effective policing. The perceived unfair treatment, harassment, and subjection of African Americans to “stop, frisk, search and arrest” has eroded public trust, compromised citizens’ due process rights, and delegitimized the law enforcement in the eyes of vulnerable groups, thus creating an enduring negative perception of the criminal justice system.