Zimring: ‘Broken Windows’ Saved Lives in NYC


Writing in the New York Post, law professor and crime expert Franklin Zimring rebukes activists who, “in a startling bit of revisionist history,” argue that the sweeping crime decline in New York City was inevitable and had nothing to do with the “broken windows” policing strategy enacted two decades ago. “Crime dropped nationwide, they argue, so New York isn't unique,” Zimring writes. “But these arguments defy logic — New York not only became safer than any large city in America, it did so while its population grew and its prison population fell.”

Zimring says “the only logical explanation” for the crime decline was the NYPD’s proactive, aggressive targeting of specific crimes in specific areas, like cleaning up outdoor drug markets. That aggression has been blamed in the death of Eric Garner, who died in police custody after he was violently subdued on Staten Island earlier this summer for selling cigarettes. “Garner's death is proactive policing done wrong, not right,” writes Zimring. “But should this really lead to the elimination of the strategy that made the city safe? Done right, the benefits of intensive patrol and aggressive policing are real.”

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