Bratton and Giuliani ushered in an approach often referred to as the “Broken Windows” strategy to policing. The Broken Windows theory is based on an article co-written by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling for City Journal that stressed the importance of addressing small crimes, and letting that success create a snowball effect into reducing larger criminal activity.
Many progressives are slow to attribute New York’s enormous success in reducing crime to this approach, but most people would be hard pressed not to acknowledge the wisdom of the strategy. Bratton and his police force reduced the hordes of window washing panhandlers and other activities that threatened New York’s quality of life.
Now, Bratton is back, and the question is whether he will stress this theory once again. New York is a different city now than it was in 1993. Crime, as it once was, is virtually unknown to an entire generation of New Yorkers. Yet, we are living in a tense environment due to the looming cloud of potential terrorism and other threats.
What is Bratton’s approach to maintaining the safety of the city’s elaborate, advanced, and vulnerable subway system? If “stop and frisk” is to be amended, what else is part of the plan? Cameras on every platform? In areas like Jamaica and Sutphin Boulevard, there may need to be more attention to weekend and evening subway safety.
The Bloomberg team felt that there was no need for additional police officers, even though some members of the City Council were in favor of an increase. It may take Bratton a while to get his footing in the department again, but if he sees the need for more uniforms, will he voice that concern to the new mayor?
An argument against adding more police officers is that added cameras and CityStat technology has reduced the need for more police officers. The outer boroughs, however, are more spread out. There are fewer opportunities for cameras to catch dangerous activity.
Those worried that Bratton will be a downgrade from the venerable Ray Kelly are most likely imports to this city. In fact, some were skeptical when Kelly was brought back by Bloomberg after serving as police commissioner in the David Dinkins administration.
Kelly was invaluable in the last 12 years, but Bratton did a marvelous job with an embattled department in 1994. If Kelly had to be replaced, this was one of the best choices Mayor Bill de Blasio could have made.
Bratton will most likely have a better relationship with de Blasio than he did with Giuliani, and perhaps that will make getting acclimated even easier. Hopefully, the Broken Windows theory will not be something that comes between the new commissioner and the new administration.
Smart Move By Governor Cuomo
Having never smoked marijuana in my life, I cannot attest to the benefits or dangers of the drug first hand. As New York moves toward making medical marijuana legal, it seems to make sense that the state government is acknowledging the benefits of prescribed use as a way to combat chronic pain.
Legal medications, like Oxycontin and Vicodin, have not always proved to be positive options for people. Marijuana, whether we like its reputation or not, is a natural substance. Under the regulatory eye of the state, it can be provided in a safe manner.
This is no longer a time when such legislation is considered a bold move, but it is a nod to common sense government.