Bill De Blasio believes in the ‘core notions’ of broken-windows policing

De Blasio at 96th Street. (Azi Paybarah.)
Tweet Share on Facebook Share on Tumblr Print

Bill de Blasio expressed some qualified support on Wednesday afternoon for the "core notions" of Rudy Giuliani's signature policing strategy.

"Look, I am someone who does believe in the core notions of the 'broken windows' theory," Bill de Blasio said on Thursday afternoon, at a campaign stop on the Upper West Side.

De Blasio didn't reference Giuliani by name, instead crediting the program to former police commissioner Bill Bratton, who de Blasio has previously floated as a possible commissioner in his administration. De Blasio said Bratton was "someone I sought advice from repeatedly."

The "broken windows" theory, which promoted by originated at the conservative Manhattan Institute, advocates for aggressively policing low-level, quality-of-life crimes as a way to combat the overall crime rate, and was widely credited for making the city safer in the mid-1990s.

MORE ON CAPITAL

ADVERTISEMENT

"I think you never ignore smaller offenses," said de Blasio, who has made overhauling stop-and-frisk a key part of his left-leaning strategy for winning the Democratic nomination. "Now, that being said, a lot of the arrests being made in the stop-and-frisk era were for very questionable offenses."

For example, he said the city should amend its laws so that small amounts of marijuana are "no longer an arrestable category."

"So, what I'd say is, you don't take any offense lightly, but we do need to be discerning about meaningful offenses versus the kind that are not really a good use of police time," he continued. "We got serious crime that we always have to be vigilant to address, and I want police time going to fighting real crime. I want police time going to working with communities to go after serious criminals and go after weapons and I think that's why we need to go back to community policing."

Whichever Democrat wins the nomination is likely to face a barrage of questions during the general election about their policing strategies, and their strategy to maintain the city's low crime rate, which has largely been achieved in the two decades since Democrats last won the mayoralty.

De Blasio tamped down expectations that he'll win the Democratic nomination outright on Tuesday, despite recent polls showing him hovering above the 40-percent threshold to avoid a run-off.

But one supporter was already thinking well past next week's primary.

"I'm a great believer of him. I think he's going to go very far. He could be president," said Sam Bartos, a classical pianist-turned lawyer. "He's a superior human being."

Bartos said he first heard de Blasio speak at a candidate forum at the Three Parks Independent Democrats club on the Upper West Side earlier this year, and he "felt I was listening to Ted Kennedy."

CORRECTION: An earlier version misstated the origin of the Broken Windows theory. It was developed by Jim Wilson and George Kelling and promoted by the Manhattan Institute.