The Power of Police

analytical Essay
1526 words
1526 words

The Power of Police In the past decade, many police departments have adopted a new theory that says serious crime can be reduced by controlling minor disorders and fixing up obvious signs of decay or litter. The theory is called broken windows, after a 1982 Atlantic Monthly magazine article by James Q. Wilson and George Kelling. The article argued that when low-level quality-of-life offenses were tolerated in a community, more serious crime would follow. According to this view, broken windows, abandoned buildings, public drinking, litter and loitering cause good people to stay in their houses or move out of the neighborhood entirely, leave criminals free to roam and send a message that law violations are not taken seriously. The theory's biggest test has been in New York City, where a dramatic decline in crime has been attributed in large part to "order maintenance." Rundown parts of the city have been cleaned up, and police focus more on such problems as panhandling, turnstile jumping, and public drinking. Police have even cracked down on people who clean the windshields of cars at stoplights with squeegees (Parenti 77). Among the first and hardest hit were the homeless, who travel, beg, and live in the political and physical basement of the class system: the city's six-story-deep concrete bowels. During the mean, hot summer of 1990, hundreds of these so --called "mole people" were driven from the nooks and crannies of the A and E lines (Parenti 74). Advocates of such tactics argued that in order to address these crimes, the police must be afforded wide discretion and should not be hamstrung by constitutional rules. Still "broken windows" enforcement has won a proper place among trends in criminal-justice reform. But in do... ... middle of paper ... ...neate the means to conduct police work morally, legally, skillfully, and effectively; then structure and administer departments on the basis of this literal work and not a fictionalized view of police work. Bibliography: Bibliography Human Rights Watch. Shielded from Justice: New York: Civil Law Suits. 24 Feb 2001 Human Rights Watch. Shielded from Justice: New York: Incidents. 24 Feb 2001 Amnesty International. United States of America Police Brutality and Excessive Force in the New York City Police Department. 24 Feb 2001 Parenti, Christian. Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis. London: Verso, 1999 "Police Brutality Must End." The Progressive 64 (2000): 8-11

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how police departments have adopted a new theory that says serious crime can be reduced by controlling minor disorders and fixing up obvious signs of decay or litter.
  • Explains that the supreme court's terry decision established the legal precedent that police officers could draw conclusions based on their experiences to ascertain if an alleged suspect’s conduct is an indication of criminal activity.
  • Explains that giuliani has shown his disdain for civil rights and his eagerness to impose law and order at all costs. amnesty international has received disturbing allegations of the ill treatment of suspects, deaths in custody and unjustified shootings by officers.
  • Recounts how officer colecchia shot and killed nathaniel levi gaines, jr., on a bronx subway platform after he had been frisked.
  • Analyzes how the shooting of william whitfield by officer michael j. davitt uncovered the disturbing fact that an officers' records on shooting incidents had not previously been tracked or subject to review.
  • Cites human rights watch's report on shielded from justice: new york: civil law suits.
  • Reports that the city paid about $70 million in settlement or jury awards in claims alleging improper police actions between 1994 and 1996. the number of brutality claims has tripled in a decade.
  • Opines that police brutality can be explained by "turning the police loose" with order maintenance tactics.
  • Cites amnesty international's report, "united states of america police brutality and excessive force in the new york city police department." parenti, christian.
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