Broken Windows and Neighborhood Disorder

Broken Windows and Neighborhood Disorder




Broken Windows and Neighborhood Disorder

George Kelling and James Wilson aim to show the importance of disorder in exacerbating crime in communities in their article “Broken Windows: The Police and Neighborhood Safety.” Their article focuses on how order leads to safe neighborhoods and how increased disorder contributes to the occurrence of crime. They focus their discussion on the idea that one broken window, which has not been repaired, will lead to other windows being broken. The authors discuss how bad behavior can lead to the breakdown of community controls. People in such communities do not see the need for taking care of their neighbors or the property that surrounds them. This creates the perception of crime in the area, even though this might not be the case. Because of this, the people will adjust their behavior to fit with their perception. This includes avoiding the streets, isolating from strangers, and less communication and interaction. The authors note that people who have a claim to their neighborhoods can take greater control, and this will lead to restoring order. The authors highlight the benefits of foot patrol by the police and they compare this to motorized patrol. They assert that officers on foot patrol are more likely to restore and retain order by engaging and interacting with them. On the other hand, officers who patrol by car are less likely to get any meaningful information that will help them to restore order (Kelling & Wilson, 2004).

In their study “Discovering the Impact of Community Policing: The Broken Windows Thesis, Collective Efficacy, and Citizens’ Judgment”, Yili Xu et al. aim to examine the issue of community policing by focusing on its structure and mechanisms and identifying its effects on disorder and crime in the community, as well as the quality of life of the people. Community policing is one of the effective approaches used for the deterrent of crime. The authors also examine the effects of disorder and crime. They note that disorder has the potential to lead to fear. Moreover, it has a direct and indirect effect on crime. The article shows how community policing leads to a reduction of crime. It also helps in controlling disorder and fear. This leads to an improvement in the quality of life (Xu et al., 2005).

Criminals assume or interpret visual cues such as graffiti, intoxication, garbage, abandoned cars, and others to mean that people living in the community do not care about what goes on in their neighborhood. This would explain the increased number of offenses in such neighborhoods. Physical disorder has also been associated with disorders and conditions such as depression, psychological distress, powerlessness, and physical decline. Ultimately, this leads to a decline in the quality of life. It is important to consider that beliefs about disorder are influenced by stereotypes and historical association of discrimination. This leads to a decline in neighborhoods of the affected minority groups. This explains the differences in perceptions of disorder and crime in white and black neighborhoods (Sampson & Raudenbush, 2004). Increases in the quality of life policing are related to significant increase in perceptions of racial bias and excessive force in policing in areas with large minority populations. Broken window policing may have some effect on fighting crime, but its implementation has the potential to create racial bias and use of force (Newman and Klahm, n. d.).



Newman, J. B.., & Klahm, F. C. (n. d.). Collateral damage? Assessing the impact of broken-windows policing on public opinion and electoral behavior.

Sampson, J. R., & Raudenbush, W. S. (2004). Seeing disorder: Neighborhood stigma and the social construction of “broken windows”. Social Psychology Quarterly, 67(4), 319-342

Xu, Y., Fiedler, L. M., Flaming, H. K. (2005). Discovering the impact of community policing: The broken windows thesis, collective efficacy, and citizens’ judgment. Journal of research in crime and delinquency, 42(2), 147-186

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