Law-abiding residents of high-crime neighborhoods keep proving George Kelling right and most of his colleagues wrong. Kelling, 83, died yesterday of cancer at his home in New Hampshire. Go to a police-community meeting in any troubled neighborhood—whether the South Side of Chicago or South Central Los Angeles—and you will rarely hear complaints about what most criminologists call “serious” crimes, such as robbery or shootings. Instead, residents will plead for surcease from open-air drug dealing, the unruly teens colonizing corners, loud music, and other affronts to civility. Kelling recognized this yearning for public order among the poor and in so doing created one of the most important contributions to urban policy in the last half century: the Broken Windows theory of policing.
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