The two Denver neighborhoods that will test a “broken windows” crime-fighting strategy have populations starkly contrasting in wealth, racial profiles, and even language, says the Rocky Mountain News. “There is a lot of crime in Capitol Hill, a lot of visible crime,” said Drew O’Connor of Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods. The Westwood neighborhood in southwest Denver is predominantly Hispanic, family-centered, and poor. Forty-five percent of students are not proficient in English. Capitol Hill is far different, largely white, more educated and with far more apartment dwellers.
In Westwood, Jan Belle of the Southwest Improvement Council says her center has been broken into from all directions – through windows, doors and even the roof. Ot started out with little things, she said – theft, graffiti, and vandalism. Criminologist George Kelling, who was hired by Denver to implement his broken windows policing theories, believes that it is those minor crimes that breed a sense of disorder – and that sense of disorder, in turn, breeds more serious crimes. Several cities that have bought into broken windows policing have seen dramatic decreases in crime. Critics say that other factors, such as a diminishing crack cocaine epidemic, prompted the decreases. Denver has been witnessing increasing crime in recent years and, until a small gain last year, a sharp drop-off in arrests.