The Rio Linda problem and police work: broken windows theory

Betsy takes note of a study on criminal behavior and policing in Testing the “broken windows” theory

The results, just now circulating in law enforcement circles, are striking: A 20 percent plunge in calls to police from the parts of town that received extra attention. It is seen as strong scientific evidence that the long-debated “broken windows” theory really works – that disorderly conditions breed bad behavior, and that fixing them can help prevent crime.

The Lowell experiment offers guidance on what seems to work best. Cleaning up the physical environment was very effective; misdemeanor arrests less so, and boosting social services had no apparent impact.

It is the influence of your immediate environment, Whether it is a community or one’s own self, how you behave is influenced by how you feel and that is influenced by the immediate environment. The clothes you wear are an important choice in how you feel about yourself and how you approach the world. Reach out from there to your home and to your community.

It is also worth noting that social services did not fare well in these studies as far as crime goes. While such services are needed in a civil context, they are often rationalized as getting to the root of criminal problems. Whether it is in the local community or international community, the effort is more effective if focused on more tangible things.

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