Broken windows policing is the theory that cracking down on smaller crimes can prevent bigger crimes in a community. NYPD Police Commissioner William Bratton is a big proponent of the method in New York City.
A Quinnipiac University poll found 56 percent of voters support the strategy, while 35 percent of voters say it adds to tensions in a neighborhood.
“I’m gratified but not surprised that New Yorkers understand and support quality of life enforcement initiatives,” said Bratton in a statement. “They are the foundation upon which policing in a democracy rests.”
Bratton, who created the data-driven accountability tool CompStat, said crime has turned around since the 1990s and the trend has continued uninterrupted for 20 years because of quality of life policing, “allowing New York to become one of the safest large cities in America.”
Voters agreed, with 44 percent saying New York City is more safe than other large cities, and 36 percent saying it is less safe.
“The challenge remains to do it in a way that is both lawful and respectful and as New York City Police Commissioner that is a goal the Mayor, myself, and the 52,000 members of the NYPD are committed to achieving throughout the city’s many diverse neighborhoods,” Bratton stated.
Sixty one percent of white voters support broken windows policing, while 33 percent oppose it. Among black voters it breaks down 56-37; among Hispanics 64–34.
Police Brutality and Racial Tensions
A total of 74 percent of voters said police brutality was very serious or somewhat serious in New York City. This is the highest level of concern since a May 2001 survey.
However, New Yorkers generally feel the police in their own neighborhoods are doing a good job. “Overall, black New Yorkers are negative about cops citywide. White voters are positive. But looking at cops in their own neighborhood, the support turns positive among black voters and heavily positive among whites,” said Quinnipiac University Poll assistant director Maurice Carroll in a press release.
The majority of voters (58 percent) said police should use force on a person refusing to be arrested, but 68 percent said there was no excuse for what happened in the case of Eric Garner, who died after a police chokehold.
“White and black voters overwhelmingly think there should be criminal charges against the officer involved,” Carroll said in the release.
Approval for the police department is down. Fifty percent of voters approve of how the NYPD is doing, compared to 42 percent who are opposed. This compares to 59 percent who approve and 32 percent who disapproved in June.
Over 1,000 New Yorkers were polled from August 20–25.