Jerusalem tries out ‘broken windows’ policing

The new policy won’t solve all the city’s problems, but if maintained, it might reduce the violence.

November 10, 2014 16:50
Palestinians in east Jerusalem

Palestinians react to tear gas fired at rioters in Jerusalem. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Amid all the bad news from Jerusalem last week, one report offered a glimmer of hope: According to Haaretz, police have begun enforcing the law against misdemeanors like urinating in public or littering the streets with sunflower-seed shells in Arab neighborhoods of the city. Unsurprisingly, some people are crying “racist harassment.” But this tactic draws on a theory of policing that has been spectacularly successful elsewhere.

The “broken windows” theory holds that when minor offenses are allowed to proliferate, respect for the law breaks down, thereby encouraging more serious crime. When then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani famously tested it in New York two decades ago, crimes rates plummeted a whopping 39 percent in three years.


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