After the New York Police Department threw a tantrum because the mayor demanded they follow the law, several right-wing media sources began to proclaim that it would result in a crime wave. Both groups were left slack-jawed when not only did a rash of criminal activity fail to appear, but the existing criminal element they were claiming to protect the people from seemingly vanished overnight.
By declaring their intent to only perform arrests when “absolutely necessary” the thought was that it would cause an increase in crime, and the political pressure would build on the police department’s side. In addition, the idea is to hurt the New York City government with a reduction in revenue from things like parking tickets or court citations. The police are still arresting those who clearly pose a danger to the public, but by ignoring the lesser crimes – the incidents which are at the heart of the “Broken Window” policy which has been in force since the 1980’s – they have revealed that the policy itself is broken.
Originating in 1982 by Professors George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson in a piece written for The Atlantic, the idea behind Broken Window is expressed with a simple statement.
If a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken.
The idea behind it is that by severely punishing minor crimes, more serious crimes are thwarted. It has been the driving force behind such diverse policies as NYPD’s Stop and Frisk and California’s Three-Strikes law. These policies it seems may actually increase crime, as the police enforcement can result in needless escalation.
When people have protested issues with the police, the cops have often aimed to incite violence. Combining these, it is easy to see that the policies under which police departments have been guided may themselves be to blame for many of the problems we now face. Our prison population is now larger than those of the Soviet Union’s infamous Gulags, and the largest prison system in history.
The statistics speak for themselves, revealing that the New York Police Department has been needlessly arresting people who were not criminals at all. Rather than bolstering their case, the NYPD has instead given Mayor Bill de Blasio proof that the department is indeed out of control, and not accountable to the people they are there to protect. Instead of the anticipated surge in criminal activity, the results of the work stoppage have shown that the police have been arresting needlessly, the result of strict EPA regulations causing a decades-long drop of crime across the city as well as elsewhere nationwide.
The transition of the justice system from law enforcement to profit center was a slow one, but now it is near absolute. There have been whole towns which had police citations as their primary revenue source. Private prisons generate record revenue and have turned into a new form of slavery. This is made worse when you realize that most prisoners have never even been before a jury for trial.
The NYPD is the largest police force in the United States. As a result, it is a good study for understanding what is wrong with American justice. By their work stoppage, the NYPD hoped to show how indispensable they are. Instead, ironically, it demonstrated that the department itself has been the problem the whole time. If we want to see crime drop in the largest city in the big apple, it is time for real reforms.