Crime has dropped dramatically in the Denver neighborhood that is the focus of an experiment in intense policing, the Rocky Mountain News reports. Crime in the graffiti-ridden Westwood neighborhood in southwest Denver plunged more than 25 percent in 2006’s first three months. Contrary to fears that intense policing would result in more citizen complaints against officers, there have been none in Westwood. Crime is dropping citywide this year, but not nearly at the pace reached in Westwood, where the “broken windows” approach was launched in February. After several years of increased crime, Denver has seen an 8 percent overall decline so far this year.
Hickenlooper declared the new statistics “a great start.” But he said it was much too early to declare a victory. In December, Hickenlooper hired noted criminologist George Kelling to advise the department on crime-fighting strategies. Kelling advocates using real-time crime analysis, putting more authority in the hands of street-level patrol officers and their supervisors, and paying greater attention to minor crimes. From New York City to Los Angeles, adoption of the broken windows strategy has been followed by reduction in crime. The theory has been challenged by some academicians, who point to other factors as responsible for the crime decreases and who maintain that broken windows has just been along for the ride.