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Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

NYPD - Historical and Current Research: Broken Windows

This is a guide mainly focusing on the history of the NYPD, but modern sources are covered too. By Ellen Belcher


"Broken Windows." The SAGE Glossary of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Ed. Larry E. Sullivan. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference, 2009. 54. Gale Virtual Reference Library A concept derived from an article by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling published in March 1982 in The Atlantic Monthly. The authors argued that neighborhood disorder creates fear and gives out crime-promoting signals. According to the theory, targeting small problems, such as vandalism on walls, litter on sidewalks, or broken windows in abandoned buildings, will prevent more serious crime from occurring. Based on this concept, the New York City Police Department implemented a “zero tolerance” policy for policing petty crimes in 1990. The 1990s was a time of significant decrease in crime in New York City, which was largely attributed to the policing approach’s focus on maintaining community order and safety. Critics of the theory argue that even those cities that did not adopt this approach saw their crime rates drop during this period. ... See also Zero Tolerance Policing

Gau, J. M. (2010). Wilson, James Q., and George L. Kelling: Broken Windows Theory. In F. T. Cullen & P. Wilcox (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Criminological Theory (Vol. 2, pp. 1018-1022). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference.
Please note that this article has an extensive bibliography on the topic

Search Terms

Try searching these terms in Academic Search Complete (CUNY USE ONLY) and/or Criminal Justice Abstracts (JOHN JAY USE ONLY)

Broken Windows and Police

Zero Tolerance Policing

Quality of Life Enforcement

Incivilities Thesis

Community Oriented Policing

Neighborhoods and Crime

Disorder and Police and Neighborhoods

Broken Windows Theory

Articles and Books on Broken Windows and the NYPD

Wilson, J. Q., & Kelling, G. L. (1982, March). Broken windows: The police and neighborhood safety. Atlantic Monthly, pp. 29–38.

Kelling, G. L., & Bratton, W. J. (1998). Declining Crime Rates: Insiders' Views of the New York City Story. Journal Of Criminal Law & Criminology, 88(4), 1217-1232.


Niebling, C. (2016). “Broken Windows.” Fire Engineering, 169(3), 111–112.

Friedersdorf, C. (2014, December) Applying 'Broken Windows' to the Police Atlantic Monthly (webpage).

Harcourt, B. E. and J.  Ludwig (Winter, 2006) "Broken Windows: New Evidence from New York City and a Five-City Social Experiment." The University of Chicago Law Review, Vol. 73, No. 1, Symposium: Homo Economicus, Homo Myopicus, and the Law
and Economics of Consumer Choice , pp. 271-320

St. Jean, Peter K. B (2007) Pockets of crime: broken windows, collective efficacy, and the criminal point of view.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Stacks - HV6177 .S8 2007 also available as an e-book (John Jay use only)

Broken Windows, 22 years later: A Forum with it's founders. Law Enforcement News. Vol. XXXI, no. 629 - February 2005 

Harcourt, Bernard E. (2001) Illusion of order : the false promise of broken windows policing. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, Reserve Room - 3 hour loan - HV 6025 .H297 2001

NYPD (1995) The year of change:  [NYPD agenda for 1995 and beyond.]  Rudolph W. Giuliani, mayor of the city of New York ; William J. Bratton, police commissioner. Special Collections - HV 8148 .N52 N45 1995 (also available as an e-book on the Internet Archive)

Articles on Broken Windows in Criminal Justice Abstracts

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Web Resources

Broken Windows Policing  Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, George Mason University

Broken windows policing : a true tale of two cities. (2014) New York: Police Reform Organizing Project. Court Monitoring Project. Similar reports from PROP on NYPD policies and their consequences on the community.

George Kelling and William Sousa (2001) Do Police Matter? An Analysis of the Impact of New York City’s Police Reforms.   New York: Manhattan Institute.

Review: The Museum of Broken Windows [NYCLU Pop Up Museum] Gothamist. September 27, 2018. open through Sunday, September 30, 2018.


Reports on NYPD and Broken Windows

Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) puts out regular reports on Broken Windows Policing including the April 2016 No Equal and Exact Justice

The NYC Department of Investigation (DOI) issued a report in June 2016 on data collected from 'C-summons' which are often the result of Broken Windows policing strategies.

The NYPD  issued a report in 2015 Broken Windows and Quality-of-Life Policing in New York City

1994-2001 Mayor Giuliani & Commissioners Bratton. Safir and 'Broken Windows'

During this the second half of the 1990s under NYC Mayor Giuliani, NYC policing strategies significantly changed. A series of NYPD publications describe these strategies - some of which were quite controversial and long-lasting.

1993 NYPD Precinct Community Council Handbook. freely available via NCJRS

1994 Getting guns off the streets of New York (Police Strategy No. 1) Special Collections - HV8148 .N52 N45 1994

1994 Curbing youth violence in the schools and on the streets (Police Strategy No. 2) Special Collections & Special Collections Room - HV8148 .N52 N45 1994a

1994 Driving drug dealers out of New York (Police Strategy No. 3) Special Collections & Special Collections Room - HV8148 .N52 N45 1994b Freely available on the Library Digital Collections

1994 Breaking the cycle of domestic violence (Police Strategy No. 4) Special Collections - HV8148 .N52 N45 1994c

1994 Reclaiming the public spaces of New York (Police Strategy No. 5) Special Collections - HV8148 .N52 N45 1994d freely available PDF linked from NCJRS Abstract

1995 Reducing Auto-Related Crime in New York (Police Strategy No. 6) NCJRS abstract

1995 The year of change this title has been digitized and is freely available on the John Jay College Library page of the Internet Archive

1995 Rooting out corruption: building organizational integrity in the New York Police Department (Police Strategy No. 7) Special Collections - HV8148 .N52 .N45 1995a   Freely available on Library Digital Collections

1995 Reclaiming the Roads of New York (Police Strategy No. 8) Freely available on Library Digital Collections

1997 Strategy '97: goal-oriented neighborhood policing (Special Collections Room - HV8148 .N52 N45 1997b, use by appt. only)

1997 The cutting edge of policing: civil enforcement for the 21st century (Special Collections Room - HV8148 .N52 N45 1997, use by appt. only) note: we also have a video with this same title.

see also:

The Website & Archives of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, 107th Mayor of New York City

1998 New York (N.Y.). Task Force on New York City Police/Community Relations. Report to the Mayor.

2007 Zimring, Franklin E The great American crime decline. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. Stacks - HV6783 .Z56 2007 or e-book

The page in this guide on Broken Windows.