“How you view ‘broken windows’ policing,” Charles Blow pronounces in The New York Times, “completely depends on your vantage point, which is heavily influenced by racial realities and socio-economics. For poor black people, it means that they have to be afraid of the cops as well as the criminals.”
To test Blow’s assertion, I attended a police community council meeting in the South Bronx’s 41st Precinct last week.
The “fear” Blow attributes to “poor black people” was nowhere in evidence. Instead, I heard what I always hear from law-abiding residents of “poor black” neighborhoods: an urgent desire for more policing, and above all, for the enforcement of public-order laws in the face of an ongoing breakdown of informal social controls.
“Oh, how lovely when we see [the police]!” an elderly woman from Hunts Point exclaimed during the meeting. “They are my friends.” Retired transit worker Earl Cleveland told me: “Where I live, the police are very courteous; I’ve never had a problem with them. They do their best.” During the public Q&A with the precinct’s commander, residents complained repeatedly about large groups of youths hanging out on corners. “There’s too much fighting,” one woman said. “There was more than 100 kids the other day; they beat on a girl about 14 years old.”