Poll Finds Majority of New Yorkers Support “Broken Windows” Policing

New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton

Yesterday, the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute released the results of a wide-ranging survey gauging New Yorkers’ opinions of their police force. The 1,021 respondents were asked questions about the NYPD actions that led to the death of Eric Garner, whether or not broken windows policing is effective, and if police brutality is an active problem, amongst many other things.

The results express a wide range of opinions, some of which appear contradictory. For example, a majority of New Yorkers support Police Commissioner Bill Bratton’s controversial “Broken Windows” theory of policing, yet Bratton’s approval rating slipped from 57 percent, in June, to 48 percent—a lower rating than predecessor Ray Kelly had at any point during his 12-year term the NYPD.

But the contradictory results make a sort of sense, when viewed in context: crime stats are declining almost everywhere in the city, but citizens’ faith in the police force is near historic lows, and we’ve just come through a summer of highly-visible police violence, both here in New York and elsewhere.

There was broad agreement among all New Yorkers on several issues: A total of 74 percent of voters say police brutality is a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem, the highest number since 78 percent in a May 2001 survey. And by a 68-24 margin, New Yorkers say there is no excuse for how police acted in the death of Eric Garner. By a similar margin, respondents supported bringing criminal charges against Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer involved in the homicide.

The poll also found that 60 percent of voters support police making arrests for “quality of life” offenses, such as drinking in public, selling small amounts of marijuana, or making loud noise late at night, while 34 percent oppose that policy. Cracking down on low-level misdemeanors is the operational philosophy of Broken Window theory, which, it could be argued, empowers police officers beyond the regular call of duty.

All of the results of the poll can be read here.

Follow Phillip Pantuso on Twitter @phillippantuso.

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