Last weekend was the first time this year that Chicago’s temperature reached 80-degrees. For anyone familiar with crime in this metropolis, warm sunny days bring out the worst in people. And so the city prepared. The University of Chicago Crime Lab opened their academic texts and brushed the dust off their theses’ and sent out their social justice warriors to stem the tide of expected crime. Violence interrupters hit the streets along with crime reduction groups like CRED and READI, aptly funded by millions in city, state and federal grants. Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her police Superintendent David Brown (formerly of Dallas PD fame) deployed the Chicago Police to concentrate on their “55 Target Police Beats” and plan for the crowds expected along the lakefront in the Downtown and Loop neighborhoods. Well, how did it work out? Not too good actually.
Downtown and the Loop as well as Millenium Park, a huge tourist attraction, saw hundreds of youths participating in the annual rite of “wilding”, running through the streets, fighting, smoking weed and drinking on the streets, robbing people, dancing on the tops of cars in traffic and causing massive disorder for hours. 9-1-1 calls so overwhelmed the CPD that throughout the city’s 23 police districts many calls were backlogged 3-4 hours, some as many as 7 hours before a squad car was dispatched. The Magnificent Mile, the name for Chicago’s high end shopping area once again became the “Mile of Fear” as it is euphemistically known. From 6PM Friday to 6AM Monday 8 people were killed and 41 shot, including an officer involved shooting in Chicago. Mayhem ensued the entire weekend. The plan to arrest youthful miscreants, numbering in the hundreds Downtown, actually resulted in 13 arrests. Not 130, but 13. It accomplished nothing.
What happened? Crime was allowed to occur with little or no concequences. Like many big cities Chicago is facing Criminal Justice Reform. That results in a state of contempt for real policing (locking up the bad guys), reduced or no charges for many crimes, bail reform, very low police morale and a severe lack of personal responsibility that is never called out by the politicians and the social justice warriors. Those combined policies negate a properly functioning criminal justice system. The laws are there but they are not enforced.
Here is something the city and both its academics and leadership don’t understand. When there is crime with no punishment society begins to collapse. We saw that in the ‘90’s when “Broken Windows Policing” evolved. And then broken windows turned it around. In many big cities, especially New York, and even here in Chicago, we saw substantial drops in crime, including murders. Cops worked more cohesively with the community. Everyone felt a sense of safety. All because of the broken windows concept.
In criminology, the broken windows theory states that visible signs of crime, anti-social behavior and civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages further crime and disorder, including serious crimes. The theory suggests that policing methods that target minor crimes such as vandalism, loitering, public drinking, jaywalking, and fare evasion help to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness.
Once again broken windows policing is needed. Sure, many will say that such policing alienates the community that the police serve, that’s what the activists tell us, but in reality it only alienates those who fail to apply personal responsibility and don’t obey the law. Many times the cops can’t even communicate with the average community member because they are locked behind their doors afraid to sit on their stoops or play in their front and back yards because of the violence and crime around them.
Community policing and criminal justice reform only work when a city or a police department has control of the crime going on around it. That starts with enforcing the law, locking up the bad guys, prosecuting them fully and if necessary putting them in jail or prison. Once there’s peace in the streets, the police, the city and the community can work together to bring about a cooperative way to sustain that peace. When that happens, it’s called law and order.Without law and order civil society will collapse. In many cities we’re on the brink of that right now.
Maybe it can all be solved by sitting down and reading a book written by two very intelligent researchers and criminologists, George Kelling and Catherine Coles. The book is called “Fixing Broken Windows”. Read it.
FIXING BROKEN WINDOWS BOOK LINK
Robert Stasch 4/27/2022