This classic essay appears in The American Idea.
"If there were a Hall of Fame for influential public-policy ideas, then the 'broken windows' thesis would probably have its own exhibit."
In the 1960s ... order maintenance became, to a degree, coterminous with “community relations.” But, as the crime wave that began in the early 1960s continued without abatement throughout the decade and into the 1970s, attention shifted to the role of the police as crime-fighters.
The essence of the police role in maintaining order is to reinforce the informal control mechanisms of the community itself. The police cannot, without committing extraordinary resources, provide a substitute for that informal control. On the other hand, to reinforce those natural forces the police must accommodate them. And therein lies the problem.
It's interesting to observe how, in the popular image, the police are overwhelmingly depicted as "crime solvers" rather than "crime preventers." There must be more to this than a (questionable) intuition about what makes for "good television." Something about a deep-seated need to submit to authority, and an unbounded (and unrealistic) faith in the power of experts.
What has happened to the sense of responsibility?
Exurbs are the new West?