A study by the New York Daily News shows that the NYPD’s “Broken Windows” policy disproportionately targets Black and Hispanic New Yorkers, especially when they’re in White neighborhoods.
Per the paper’s analysis, communities where Blacks and Hispanics are the majority see far more summonses under the quality-of-life initiative. However, they are more likely to be ticketed in low-crime, mostly white areas as well.
That disparity was most apparent in the 24th Precinct, which covers the affluent Upper West Side. Though people of color only make up 34 percent of the area’s population, they have received an estimated 84 percent of summonses. For the 84th Precinct, covering Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO, minorities make up only 28 percent of the population, but received 78 percent of all summonses in the area. The information covered 6.9 million criminal court summonses between 2001 and 2013.
The data also revealed that Black and Hispanic New Yorkers receive a majority of summonses for common offenses. That included 88 percent of disorderly conduct tickets; 89 percent of loitering tickets; 92 percent of spitting tickets; and 91 percent of tickets for unlicensed dogs (even though less than 20 percent of all dogs citywide are licensed).
Still, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, who has brought the policy back to the city in his latest tenure, stands firmly behind it.
“In terms of quality-of-life types of offenses, those are in fact actual criminal acts witnessed by a police officer or violations of city ordinances — traffic offenses, littering — all these things are in fact against the law,” Bratton told WNYC. “If people would obey the law, then they would not draw the attention of the police.” Mayor Bill de Blasio has also stood by the policy.
Broken Windows policing states that by prosecuting low-level offenses, police departments can prevent larger ones in the future. Critics argue that it unfairly criminalizes minorities and does little to stop real crime. New Yorkers Against Bratton, an ad-hoc activist group formed after Bratton’s return last year, has been especially vocal in its opposition to the practice. They continue to organize for a removal of Broken Windows and Bratton’s resignation as police commissioner.