Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Broken Window Policing

What is the point of all the protests?  What's the concrete goal?  Whatever the concrete goal is supposed to be--if there are any--has not been made clear by all the vocal activists.  If there is a concrete goal, they have been absolutely abysmal in making the goal known to the general public.  Is the goal like owning a Prius--to develop some good lefty-street cred?

Is the goal to reduce police shootings such as in the Eric Garner case or to reduce violent crime more generally?  But Eric Garner cases are rare and crime has been falling.  Focusing in on one or two emotional cases is like arguing for or against global warming because today it's warm or cold.

Here would be a concrete goal: protest until the government gets rid of certain Jim Crow laws.  That was a concrete goal which was achieved.  But vague platitudes such as "raise awareness about racial structures" or "remove institutionalized racism" are utterly worthless, except insofar as saying such things might be self-serving to those who make a living race-baiting or who try to solidify their place in the media, university, left-wing establishment.

This is an intelligent piece on Broken Window Policing which some liberals I've heard ignorantly refer to as "racial profiling."  Read the whole thing.  Here are a couple short excerpts:

The numbers also dispute the commonplace assertion that Broken Windows arrests lead to abusive use of police force, heightening the risk that minor offenders (like Eric Garner) might be killed. Force is rarely used during New York City arrests. In the 141,836 misdemeanor arrests made in the first half of 2014, police used force 2,481 times, or 1.7 percent of the total. In misdemeanor arrests for violations of minor local laws, force was used just 21 times, or 0.6 percent of the total. In the 321 misdemeanor arrests for untaxed cigarettes in the first half of 2014, force was used zero times. Force was also reported in only 0.3 percent of narcotics and marijuana arrests. These figures highlight how anomalous the use of force was in the Garner case.

Another charge against Broken Windows is that it results in over-incarceration, especially of the poor and minorities. But the opposite has proved true. Because of the crime turnaround in New York, felony arrests in the city are down by about 60,000 per year from 1990 levels. Imprisonment in New York State penitentiaries has declined by 25 percent since 2000, driven by a 69 percent decline in the number of New York City court commitments. Likewise, the Gotham jail population has declined 45 percent since 1992. These trends all stand in distinct contrast to the growth of prison populations in many other areas of the country.

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