Crime and Urban Decay

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Crime and Urban Decay Introduction It is commonly believed that communities with the highest level of crime are those that have the most urban decay. This is frequently referred to as the Broken Windows theory, which was originally posited by Wilson and Kelling. They believed that active policing would reduce the amount of disorderliness and petty crime in a neighborhood. The reduction in crime would, in turn, increase neighborhood involvement, which would reduce violent crime rates (Wilson & Kelling, 2004). Because it is believed that almost all urban neighborhoods will experience times of decline and decay, if broken windows theory is true, then active policing should be able to prevent an episode of urban decay from transforming a neighborhood into a dangerous place to live. However, not everyone believes that broken windows theory has merit. While focusing police efforts on petty crimes may reduce the overall crime rate in a neighborhood and create an impression of a safety among people in the neighborhood, some people argue that it does not impact serious crime rates. In fact, David Harcourt believes that active community policing is actually a waste of police resources, because there simply is not sufficient empirical support to suggest that foot patrols reduce crime rates, particularly violent crime rates (Harcourt & Thacher, 2005). Theory Active policing that targets, discourages, and punishes petty crimes, such as vandalism, will drive down the rates of
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