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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Garner decision illustrates need for Community Policing

The police cite the "Broken Window" theory when justifying police murders, but the Atlantic article they cite doesn't support the argument that police should be arresting people for minor crimes to prevent bigger crimes. The article was talking about how the way to prevent bigger crimes is to have community policing that keeps the locals feeling safe. As I noted in my previous post []. The Atlantic quote is:

"one unrepaired broken window is a signal that no one cares, and so breaking more windows costs nothing."

The article talked about the importance of on the ground policing "community policing", where the purpose of local constabulary is to maintain order and not just to make arrests or enforce top down laws. The Broken Glass theory before being distorted was premised on the very obvious observation that. Broken Glass theory was about the important of not letting "untended behavior go on in communities because:

""untended" behavior also leads to the breakdown of community controls. A stable neighborhood of families who care for their homes, mind each other's children, and confidently frown on unwanted intruders can change, in a few years or even a few months, to an inhospitable and frightening jungle."

It was tendered on the importance of police and communities being "community."

"The essence of the police role in maintaining order is to reinforce the informal control mechanisms of the community itself. The police cannot, without committing extraordinary resources, provide a substitute for that informal control. On the other hand, to reinforce those natural forces the police must accommodate them. And therein lies the problem"

But of course the "Broken window" theory applied was opposite. Instead of focusing on the need for police to provide local order it focused on two roles mentioned in the article

Many citizens, of course, are primarily frightened by crime, especially crime involving a sudden, violent attack by a stranger. This risk is very real, in Newark as in many large cities. But we tend to overlook another source of fear—the fear of being bothered by disorderly people. Not violent people, nor, necessarily, criminals, but disreputable or obstreperous or unpredictable people: panhandlers, drunks, addicts, rowdy teenagers, prostitutes, loiterers, the mentally disturbed.

And instead of regarding these people as citizens to be helped off the street and treated, the police began looking for ways to eliminate them. Sometimes literally.

Nevermind that the article was talking about the need for legitimacy, intimacy and involvement of police and being part of the community. The Atlantic article had talked about how even white police could patrol black neighborhoods if they knew the neighborhoods:

"The people were made up of "regulars" and "strangers." Regulars included both "decent folk" and some drunks and derelicts who were always there but who "knew their place."

The key is to respect the integrity of neighborhoods. And that is not what the police are doing. Choking citizens is not community policing. Though Staten Island is closer to community policing than what happened in Cincinnati or Ferguson.

I go into what I think we should do in more detail in The Neighborhood and the City The Village and The Town and We need local community government.

We need local Community Government

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