The “Broken Window Policing” theory was published in the early 1980’s as a general construct. It’s main tenet is that once a community begins to turn a blind eye to minor criminal activity, more serious criminal activity is inherently inbound. Like any other topic, there are those who fully support the theory and others that think it is garbage.
I first heard of this theory while I was in college. It was one of many that were presented and studied during my time in academia. As is often the case, I learned enough about it to pass an exam and filed it away as something I’d probably never use again.
In my professional life as a law enforcement officer, I’ve never had any supervisor bring up the topic of “broken window policing”. However, I’ve encountered many suspects that have reminded me that “the Donut doesn’t play around”, meaning that they knew if they were caught committing a crime in my county they would likely get the proverbial book thrown at them.
A good number of the citizens of the Donut are here because they used to live in the big city that we border and did not want their children subjected to the crime and dangers that are rampant there. We have no fence keeping the murderers, rapists, and gangbangers out of the Donut. What we do have is an active approach to enforcing the law and ensuring that anyone caught breaking the law is held accountable for their actions.
We aren’t always thrilled with the plea agreements and slaps on the wrist that sometimes get handed to our arrestees once they hit the courtroom by our own prosecutors, but those sanctions are typically far more severe than they would have been just a few miles down the road.
I don’t fault my brothers and sisters who work in the big city; there are far more people there than we have in the Donut. Our prosecuting attorneys do not have the case load that their counterparts have in the big city. Our probation officers are overworked, but not on the level of those in the big city. Our jail is kept busy enough, but those tasked with working as correctional officers here do not have nearly the volume of inmates as our neighbors.
Since we have a little more time than the big city folks, we do seek out those who commit smaller crimes in an effort to keep the major crimes away. We deal with folks who live in the big city on a regular basis. If they are caught breaking the law here, they know what is coming. It’s their choice.
I won’t promote the “movement” that is now vilifying the men and women who enforce the law by mentioning them by name, but it is common to hear the so-called leaders call for an end to “broken window policing”. What these people are missing is that law enforcement officers do not write the laws in our nation. Instead, we are tasked with enforcing those laws and they are expected to comply with the law as citizens.
Many say that enforcing these “victimless” crimes is criminalizing the poor. They say that things like driving without a valid license, drinking in public places, drug possession, and prostitution are harmless. I would agree that it is harmless to drive without a seatbelt-until you are in a crash without one, there’s a law on the books that makes wearing a seatbelt a requirement because they protect the occupants of vehicles and make crashes more survivable.
In my experience those who drive without a license don’t typically have vehicle insurance either. So when they are involved in a crash with someone who does have insurance, the insured motorist gets screwed financially. Harmless.
Drinking in public areas can be harmless, until drunks do what drunks do. Pissing in the street, swearing, fighting, and being generally unfit for children to be around really isn’t what I’d like my sugar donuts to see while they are at the park.
I’ve seen more lives ruined by drug use in my community than our citizens would ever believe. Overdoses are not uncommon. Quite a few of the crimes committed in the Donut are committed by someone who is either under the influence of an illicit drug, or in order to get an illicit drug. Everything from petty thefts to armed robberies, but those possessing drugs are harmless.
Most of the prostitutes I have encountered are not necessarily willing participants in the trade. They answer to a pimp that controls them, and for good measure they are also typically drug users who are supporting their habit by selling their bodies. Harmless, right?
I learned early in my career that you cannot explain logical things to illogical people. It doesn’t matter how the facts are laid out, if someone is too committed to a false idea there is no way to convince them of the truth.
These are the same people that would argue that police officers shoot more black men than white men although the numbers don’t lie. They can’t fathom why an officer would ever shoot someone who was trying to kill them. They call us racists but target white folks for attacks while they burn down businesses in their own communities. Everyone else is to blame while they decry their own deplorable situation that came to life because no one stood up for their community and drove the thugs away. Instead, the thugs are celebrated and made into martyrs and an excuse to riot.
I’ll continue to do everything I can to keep the “broken windows” at bay here in the Donut because I’ve seen the slippery slope that comes when they are ignored. It’s not an issue of rich or poor, black or white, or anything else. It is a matter of holding those who commit crimes accountable for their actions so they know we are paying attention. If that keeps criminals out of the Donut, well I guess I’ve done my job. If that offends those who support criminals, well, frankly I’m fresh out of fucks to give.
It’s time to go patrol the Donut…