Posted: July 6th, 2021
When you think of the broken window theory, I know you’re saying to yourself how could a broken glass cause crime in a neighborhood. The broken window theory includes crimes such as loitering, panhandling, vandalism, littering and public drunkenness. The broken window theory was first proposed in 1982 by James Q. Wilson and George L Kelling. It inspired noteworthy changes in policing tactics in many parts of the United States, mostly New York City (Greene, J. (2018)).
In New Jersey back in the 1970’s in over 28 cities there was a pilot project known as the Safe and Clean Neighborhoods Program. This program was assigned to foot patrol officers, which allowed them to be visible on the streets to help lower crime rates. It allowed the officers to interact with local business and community residents. Even though the crime rates didn’t drop drastically but residents felt secure knowing officers were walking around verses riding by in their vehicles.
This pilot project formed the basis of Wilson and Kelling’s broken window theory (Greene, J. (2018)). There are two major hypotheses that has been proven by Wilson and Kelling. The first hypotheses is that a prevailing sense of order in a neighborhood reduces low-level criminal activity Greene, J. (2018). Second, this reduction in low-level criminal activity prevents more serious crime from ever taking place Greene, J. (2018).
I’m going to explain how these hypotheses are in fact true. First, I will explain Philip Zimbardo (Psychologist) experiment on the Broken windows theory. Second, present a Case Study called ” Subway Swiper” that took place in New York City where a crime took place due to panhandling. Lastly, I’ll also explain how the broken window theory also take effect in Karachi City Pakistan.
In 1969, Philip Zimbardo decided to park two abandoned vehicles without license plates in two different areas. One of the vehicles was placed in the Bronx where there is high crime and the other parked in Palo Alto, California. Both Vehicles were left with the hoods up. After 10 mins in the Bronx people begin to take parts off the vehicle and smashing out windows. In California after a week passed by the vehicle was in the same condition until Zimbardo himself decides to smash the window out with a sledgehammer.
The objective is no matter what area this occurs crime is likely to take place. It’s the same for example, a local corner store has a broken window or graffiti on the wall people are going to most likely think it is an abandoned building. People are going to continue to break out windows and write graffiti on the walls. In order to prevent crime from happening the owner must repair the broken window and repaint over the graffiti.
Secondly, I’m presenting to you the “subway swiper “by the name of Herbert Burgess a metro card swiper. After serving 18 years for struggling his roommate and 58 prior arrest, Burgess was known in the neighborhood as the $1 man. Herbert was stationed at a local subway station where would approach and ask people to give him a dollar or two and he would swipe his metro pass for entry.
Keep in mind it’s illegal for him to sell swipe in New York City. One day Burgess saw a young lady trying to add money on her metro card so he decided to approach her. He offered to swipe her through for $1. She refused his offer and continued to try and load money on her card. Burgess took it upon himself and snatched the dollar out of her hand and walked off. The young lady saw it as a robbery and called the police as she followed behind Burgess.
Prior to calling the police she then called her father Velazquez. After noticing the young lady called the police Burgess tried to hand her back the money but it was too late. Burgess then got aggressive with her, punched her in the face and dropped the money. Her father soon showed up to the scene as she pointed her father in the direction of Burgess. He was chased back into the station and grabbed by Velazquez and stabbed in the back. Burgess still managed to get away from the scene heading to the hospital where he later died. This is a prime example of how panhandling can lead to a serious crime.
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