Eli Lehrer has written an excellent piece[July/August 2003] describing William Bratton’s key role in turning around the crime scene in New York City. As a disinterested, but close observer of that drama, I can attest that Lehrer got the story just right. Bratton is given credit for working with the community and private donors. That is an understatement. He was instrumental in recognizing those contributions, and he also latched onto the phrase, “fighting crime is good for business.” The one part of the article which misses the target is the reference to the “broken windows” theory proposed by George Kelling and James Q. Wilson and effectively trumpeted by the Manhattan Institute. That was the battering ram which broke down the wall of crime and Bratton had the insight, experience, and vision to make that the centerpiece of his tenure.
Alice & Stanley Goldstein Foundation
Briarcliff Manor, NY
Eli Lehrer responds:
Fom a public relations standpoint, Mr. Goldstein is right to say that broken windows was the centerpiece of Bratton’s tenure in New York. But neither Bratton, nor Kelling, nor Wilson, contends that good police work only consists of doing away with disorder. Indeed, Temple University’s Ralph Taylor has shown that broken windows policing has only a mild (but still meaningful) effect when it comes to arresting urban decline. Good police work involves fighting disorder, but it doesn’t stop there. And under Bill Bratton, it didn’t.