CRIME: How Little Things Can Make a big Difference

 

An example of how little aspects can make a big difference is given in the analysis of the famous case of the New York City crime problem. By the mid 1980s crime was rampant in New York City. Graffiti in the subways was ubiquitous and it was estimated that the city was losing $175 million in revenues in unpaid subway fares due to ubiquitous scofflaws.

 

The “Broken Window” theory says if a part of a town or city becomes run down, has broken windows and the like, then lawbreakers feel emboldened since it appears that no one cares and is enforcing laws. Crime increases because criminals believe enforcement will be overlooked or neglected. This was the state on the graffiti ridden subways with its turnstile scofflaws.

 

The Transit Authority set out to change things. A special shed was set up to repaint the subway cars on the turnaround overnight. Gradually they were all repainted and no car with graffiti was sent out mixed with a clean one. The graffiti artists were slowly defeated.

 

Next special police squads were set up to monitor the turnstiles, arresting and charging the scofflaws. In the process of these arrests they found 1 in 7 had an outstanding warrant for a previous crime and 1 in 20 was carrying some sort of weapon. Eventually this bonanza began to reap rewards as criminals realized they had better pay their fares and leave their weapons at home. The same style of enforcement was then moved above ground and what would have been previously overlooked minor infractions such as public drunkenness, urination and littering were rigorously enforced. Before long the crime rate began to dramatically fall, just as it had in the subway. Tipping Points for violent crime proved to be minor, seemingly insignificant quality-of- life crimes. This is the Broken Window theory in action. Content adapted from Malcolm Gladwell’s Book “The Tipping Point”.

© 2018 | BRIDGE OF GRACE

COMPASSIONATE

MINISTRY CENTER

5100 Gaywood Drive

Fort Wayne, IN 46806‎

(260) 744-4446

 

 

 

 

Next special police squads were set up to monitor the turnstiles, arresting and charging the scofflaws. In the process of these arrests they found 1 in 7 had an outstanding warrant for a previous crime and 1 in 20 was carrying some sort of weapon. Eventually this bonanza began to reap rewards as criminals realized they had better pay their fares and leave their weapons at home. The same style of enforcement was then moved above ground and what would have been previously overlooked minor infractions such as public drunkenness, urination and littering were rigorously enforced. Before long the crime rate began to dramatically fall, just as it had in the subway. Tipping Points for violent crime proved to be minor, seemingly insignificant quality-of- life crimes. This is the Broken Window theory in action. Content adapted from Malcolm Gladwell’s Book “The Tipping Point”.