Denver Expanding “Broken Windows” Policing


Denver police will expand the successful “Broken Windows” strategy into more police districts, the Rocky Mountain News reports. City Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth welcomes the six-month pilot project. The plan will be watched carefully, because it is supposed to bring heightened police attention without increasing the number of officers assigned to those districts. “There’s no increase in people,” said Wedgeworth. “They are just reallocating time and assignments so they can focus on specific issues in certain neighborhoods.” In one area of Denver, police reassigned special crime attack teams to traffic duty, graffiti patrols, and other violations in a single neighborhood to see if it would reduce crime. Statistics suggest that it did: crime in the area, called Westwood, dropped 25.9 percent in the first six months of this year compared with last year, if drug offenses are not counted. With drugs factored in, crime dropped only 12.4 percent.

Counting drug offenses skews the crime figures upward because the increased enforcement that is part of the Broken Windows strategy leads to more narcotics arrests. Broken Windows is a term used by criminologist George Kelling, whom Mayor John Hickenlooper brought in to help get a grip on city crime. Although the term originally stood for increased attention to even minor offenses – like broken windows – it now includes a kind of integrated approach to law enforcement. Kelling advocates extensive use of timely crime statistics, weekly discussion among top commanders about what is happening in their districts and what they’re doing about it, and creative use of resources.


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