Petty crimes are still crimes

Under the broken-windows theory, an ordered and clean environment, one which is maintained, sends the signal that the area is monitored and criminal behaviour will not be tolerated. Conversely, a disordered environment—one which is not maintained (broken windows, graffiti, abandoned vehicles, etc) sends the signal that the area is not monitored and one can engage in criminal behaviour with little risk of detection. It is assumed, under this theory, the landscape “communicates” with people.
The main notion of the theory is that small crimes can make way for larger crimes. If the “petty” criminals are often overlooked and given space to do what they want, then their level of criminality might escalate from petty crimes to more serious offences. Welcome to T&T 2013.
In 1990, when William Bratton (yes the same Bratton who recently visited Trinidad) became head of the New York City Transit Police, he adopted a zero-tolerance approach to transit policing and then used the strategy more widely when he became New York City’s police commissioner. It works.
So call it whatever you want—broken window, mash up door, break up pavement, big pothole—the bottom line is that the Police Service needs to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to petty infractions such as excessive littering, abandoned vehicles, illegal/bad parking, loitering, noisy bars and obstruction of pavements (we call it liming), public urinating and cursing, illegal vending and I could go on—but I suppose this might be asking too much of them, having gotten so used to the broken windows themselves.
Ricardo Lijertwood
via e-mail
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