PAX Centurion - Spring 2019

Page 24 • PAX CENTURION • Spring 2019 617-989-BPPA (2772) “Community Policing, Rightly Understood” Excerpted verbatim from an article by Prof. George L. Kelling Printed in City Journal magazine, Winter 2019 EDITOR’S NOTE: The following excerpts are taken verbatim from an article published recently in NYC’s City Journal Magazine by George Kelling. Prof. Kelling is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a Professor of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University, and has collaborated on numerous articles and studies with the late Professor James Q. Wilson, famous author of the “Broken Windows” (Atlantic Monthly, 1982) theory of Community Policing. “Broken Windows” theory, in a nutshell, generally speaks to the idea that police should first and foremost address so-called “minor” criminal offenses, such as vandalism, vagrancy, drug-use, disorderly conduct, public drinking, loud music, etc., etc. as the best way to prevent more serious felonies and community deterioration from taking place.“Broken Windows” policing theory had great success in the 1980’s/90’s, especially in large cities such as New York, but other, newer “Community Policing” theories have now become more popular. Prof. Kelling addresses this apparent conflict in his article, warning us of the dangers of allowing “community policing” to retreat from its original goal of tough enforcement of order-maintenance crimes to becoming a “feel- good,” public relations gimmick. The actual article was too lengthy for reproduction in the current issue of Pax Centurion; therefore, it has been excerpted for space considerations. The complete article is available on-line at . – Pax Editor James Carnell “O ver the last quarter-century, the United States has seen historic drops in crime – most famously in New York. These gains, once thought impossible, were achieved largely through dramatic innovations in policing, especially the adoption of an approach that stressed order-maintenance in communities…” “In recent years, however, antipolice sentiment has risen in the U.S., sparked in part by a series of tragic, high-profile, police- involved killings in major cities but also by the work of critics, mostly on the left but also on the libertarian right, who argue that targeted policing aimed at public disorder is coercive, hostile to community life, and often racist. These critics see such policing as the antithesis to what they call community policing…” “…The increasingly widespread view that community policing and order-maintenance efforts are at odds represents a fundamental misunderstanding…” “…Community policing is often portrayed as being soft on crime. AGoogle search of the phrase turns up images of smiling police officers allowing children to sit on top of motorcycles, posing for pictures, playing touch football, and making presentations to schoolchildren. This risks making community policing seem like a publicity stunt, an insincere attempt by cops to foster a gentler image – what some law and order critics mock as “hug-a-thug” enforcement. Community policing, rightly understood, can be, and often is, aggressive and even intrusive, depending on the community’s concerns.” “[In 1990] Crime was then a daily fear for NewYorkers…New York saw 2,262 murders and more than 100,000 robberies; in 2017, by sharp contrast, there were 292 murders and 14,000 robberies in the City. Yet, scary as crime was, community fear has always been more closely correlated with public disorder…subway trains were covered in graffiti. Times Square was overrun by prostitutes, pimps and drug dealers. Adrive through the Bronx would reveal whole blocks on which one structure – if any – remained standing. A trip to the corner store would often require cutting through a group of youngsters dealing drugs, drinking, playing loud music, or catcalling young women… the disorder made people feel that no one was in charge…. more and more NewYorkers began to avoid public spaces…” “While working with the community as a partner, police sometimes have to take tough, unpopular stances…The Police had to be more assertive…One reason such initiatives were so effective in reducing crime was that they reflected an understanding of the critical link between crime and disorder…” “Unfortunately, some New Yorkers seem to be noticing a regression toward the sorts of public disorder that characterized the city decades ago. That perception has followed an official push on the part of some city leaders to roll back police authority to deal with such public-order offenses as fare-evasion and public urination. The push reflects a misunderstanding of what true community policing is…” EDITOR: What Prof. Kelling seems to be telling us, in a scholarly way, is that extreme liberalism, of the type exhibited by New York Mayor DiBlasio, is causing New York to revert to the terrible criminal chaos of the 1980’s and 90’s. Non-enforcement of “minor” crimes and public disorder violations – in the name of “compassion and non-intervention” is dangerous, and we should all take heed. The late, great Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko once authored an article about the gang-related murder of 9-year old Laketa Crosby (DOD-August 4 th , 1985) in the infamous Cabrini-Green housing projects under then-Mayor Jane Byrne’s leadership. In response to the horrific murder of this young girl, Mayor Byrne physically moved into an apartment in the housing project. Tough police enforcement followed, and crime went way down. But soon, liberals and self- appointed community activists complained of “police harassment”, the Mayor moved out, the cops pulled back once again, and gangs and crime quickly returned. The name of Royko’s column was titled “When Police are Handcuffed, Violence is Unleashed.” It was true then, and it’s true now.