Browse Exhibits (2 total)

The Urban Uprisings of the 1960s

In the years following the publication of the Moynihan report in 1965, a series of urban uprisings erupted. Black protestors took to the streets and demanded that their grievances about systemic racism, economic marginalization, and police brutality be heard.  The national media sensationalized these urban rebellions as widespread outbreaks of lawlessness and destruction. Anxious whites compelled their political leaders to contain urban racial animosity and preserve the sacred balance of law and order in American cities. To regain public confidence in his ability to allay growing fears of crime and disorder, President Johnson appealed to academics for policy recommendations. Johnson attempted to incorporate proactive “tough on crime” strategies drawn from scholars like Moynihan and Wilson in order to respond to the raging protests in black urban neighborhoods. In an interview with PBS, Wilson described his interaction with President Johnson, saying:

“After he [Lyndon B. Johnson] won decisively in 1964, he immediately created a national commission on law enforcement and the administration of justice, determined to do whatever was in his power to reduce crime. Well, at that time there weren't many crime specialists in the United States. So, when a colleague of mine at the Harvard Law School, discovered I had been studying police, he decided to put me on a task force of this crime commission. I told him I didn't know anything about crime, and he said, ‘Well, look it up.’”[1]

On March 8, 1965, Johnson formally established the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice proclaiming, “In the longer run we must also deepen our understanding of the causes of crime and of how our society should respond to the challenge of our present levels of crime.”[2] The Commission, comprised of 19 commissioners, 63 staffers, and hundreds of additional advisors and consultants, crafted over 200 ‘specific recommendations’ for structural and operational changes within the federal, state, and local governments. By “call[ing] for a revolution in the way that America thinks about crime,” the commissioners sought to demystify and delineate the complexities of America’s crime problem and focus more broadly on civil institutions, social agencies, and individuals as major agents for controlling the prevalence of crime.[3]

Despite Johnson’s efforts to assuage growing hostility between African American and urban police forces, tensions within urban communities flared across the United States from Harlem to Watts. Each of the “ghetto” rebellions that occurred from 1964 to 1967 exhibited certain commonalities. The impetus behind each uprising stemmed from an incident of police harassment or brutality. These incendiary interactions between individuals and the police eventually incited overwhelming rage among a crowd of onlookers. Upon the arrival of additional police reinforcements, the impassioned protesters ultimately engaged in outright revolt against law enforcement.

[1] Wattenberg, Ben. "James Q. Wilson Interview." The First Measured Century Interviews. Accessed November 26, 2016. http://www.pbs.org/fmc/interviews/jwilson.htm.

[2] "Lyndon B. Johnson: Special Message to the Congress on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice." Lyndon B. Johnson: Special Message to the Congress on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice. Accessed November 17, 2016. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=26800.

[3] United States. President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice. The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society: A Report by the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice. By Nicholas DeB. Katzenbach. Washington: U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1967.

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Kelling's Police Foundation Experiments (1970s)

The Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment, conducted from October 1st, 1972, through September 30th, 1973, clarified two foundational assumptions that revolutionized police patrols in the seventies.[1] First, Kelling’s team of leading researchers, consultants, and Police Foundation affiliates determined that the results of the Kansas City Experiment showed that patrolling neighborhoods in “marked police cars” did virtually nothing to prevent criminal activity or enhance citizens’ feelings of safety.[2] Second, Kelling’s report suggested the police practitioners needed to revamp traditional routine patrol strategies in order to more effectively prevent crime and deliver community services.[3] Furthermore, the Kansas City Experiment findings laid the foundation for another critically acclaimed policing study led by Kelling titled the Newark Foot Patrol Experiment.

While conducting the Newark Foot Patrol Experiment, the Police Foundation research team worked in tandem with the Newark City Police Department to produce and publish the final report in 1981.[4]  This report outlined the first major examination of foot patrol tactics since a 1969 study done in United Kingdom.[5] The Newark experiment focused on the effects of New Jersey’s new Safe and Clean Neighborhoods Program (1973)—an initiative Wilson and Kelling described as focused on increasing police foot patrol presence in 28 cities.[6] The researchers constructed three separate experimental designs in order to assess the extent to which various strategies of patrolling (mainly motor vs. foot patrol) affected citizens’ fear of crime and satisfaction with police in handling perceived criminal activities.[7] The Newark Experiment endorsed the effectiveness of foot patrolling in community spaces. As a result, policing experts began evaluating how foot patrols could serve as viable mechanism for increasing public safety and decreasing social disorder on city streets.

By building off the findings of the Kansas Preventive Patrol Experiment, Kelling and his colleagues illustrated in the Newark study how foot patrols and meaningful community engagement can enable police officers to better cope with the systemic problems in crime-ridden environments.[8] Moreover, the study concluded that the Safe and Clean Neighborhood Act attained its goal of increasing citizens’ feelings of safety in the streets by lessening “fear of crime.”[9] Both the Kansas City and Newark studies featured input from major metropolitan politicians and leading practitioners in the policing field. By incorporating practical and theoretical conceptions of policing, these Police Foundation studies brought tangible policy discussions regarding crime to the forefront of national political discourse.


[1] Kelling, George L., Tony Pate, Duane Dieckman, and Charles E. Brown. The Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment. Police Foundation Report. Washington, D.C.: Police Foundation, 1974. 1-56. 

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Pate, Antony, Amy Ferrera, and George L. Kelling. The Newark Foot Patrol Experiment. Police Foundation Report. Washington, D.C.: Police Foundation, 1981. 1-152.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Kelling, George L., and James Q. Wilson. "Broken Windows The Police and Neighborhood Safety." The Atlantic. March 1982. Accessed December 06, 2016. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1982/03/broken-windows/304465/.

[7] Pate, Antony, Amy Ferrera, and George L. Kelling. The Newark Foot Patrol Experiment. Police Foundation Report. Washington, D.C.: Police Foundation, 1981. 1-152.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Pate, Antony, Amy Ferrera, and George L. Kelling. The Newark Foot Patrol Experiment. Police Foundation Report. Washington, D.C.: Police Foundation, 1981, pg. 127.

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