Home > Introduction to Broken Windows

Introduction to Broken Windows

"Policing the Black Urban Underclass" uncovers the untold intellectual history behind the development and proliferation of broken windows theory in American criminological and political thought of the 1970s through the 1990s. This site illustrates how law enforcement strategies—like broken windows policing—instigated a paradigm shift in modern American policing away from traditional “crime fighting” strategies and toward “order maintenance” focused patrolling tactics. The archives and exhibits explore how the implementation of broken windows theory by policymakers and police practitioners intensified long-standing feelings of animosity and tension between law enforcement officials and the black urban underclass. By highlighting the intellectual and policy evolution of broken windows policing, "Policing the Black Urban Underclass" reveals critical origin points for popular theories of policing disorder that have materialized into controversial and prejudicial law enforcement practices within our contemporary criminal justice system. 

In ordert to view the exhibits in order, please follow the guide below.

Exhibit 1: Remembering Eric Garner

Exhibit 2: Wilson Meets Kelling

Exhibit 3: Urban Uprisings in the 1960s

Exhibit 4: James Q. Wilson's 1960s Commentary 

Exhibit 5: The Zimbardo Experiment

Exhibit 6: Police Foundation Experiments

Exhibit 7: Team Policing Experiment

Exhibit 8: James Q. Wilson's Rise to Fame

Exhibit 9: James Q. Wilson's 1970s Commentary

Exihibit 10: The Broken Windows Debut

Exhibit 11: The NYPD: Broken Windows Revolution

Exhibit 12: Broken Windows in the 21st Century