Thirty two years ago James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling wrote an article for Atlantic Magazine postulating that focusing on quality of life infractions in neighborhoods, such as broken windows, would lower crime, and for many years it was referred to as the broken-windows-theory.
Several studies and police practice over the years have proven their theory correct and this latest, as reported by the Miami Herald, proves once again, how right they were.
“Violent criminals are not the only threat to neighborhoods, Miami police say. Prostitutes, drug users, and even motorists who disobey the rules of the road can jeopardize the safety of residents.
“That’s why Miami police cast a broad net with Operation Resilience, a citywide crackdown that launched in December 2011 and concluded in November with more than 1,000 arrests made for crimes ranging from suspected murder and drug trafficking to prostitution and robbery.
“Maj. David Magnusson, commander of tactical operations for Miami police, said the broad sweep targeted violent crime in the city.
“Homicides are lower at the same point now than they were last year,’’ he said, “and [the numbers of] people shot are lower than they were at the same time last year.’’
“Tapping officers from several divisions within Miami’s police department — including gang units, narcotics investigators, robbery detectives and traffic cops — Operation Resilience flooded the city’s streets with police during crackdowns, Magnusson said.
“Police conducted 12 separate sweeps over the year with each operation taking place over two, nonconsecutive days, he said.
“During those sweeps, police made 380 felony arrests, including 83 for drug possession, 93 for drug trafficking, 156 for drug purchasing, 10 for gun possession, and 19 for battery.
“While the operation’s primary mission was to reduce drug-related violent crime, officers also targeted “quality of life’’ crimes such as public intoxication, indecent exposure, gambling, prostitution and traffic infractions.
“Magnusson said residents frequently complained of drivers speeding or running stop signs in their neighborhoods, and vagrants pushing carts on public streets in the middle of the night.
“We have found, and there is scientific proof, if you let these things go on unchecked, it just gives that atmosphere that anything goes,’’ Magnusson said, “and after a while anything does go.’’
“Police reported making 259 “quality of life’’ arrests and 110 traffic arrests during the course of the operation. They also issued 4,832 traffic citations.”