Did Staten Island Police Application of Broken Window Theory Lead to the Eric Garner Death?

Recently, Stanton Island police officer Daniel Pantaleo was not indicted by a grand jury for the Eric Garner death which could be a product of Malcolm Gladwell’s Broken Window Theory. Since then there have been demonstrations across the U.S. and a call for revisions in policies regarding police using force and positively interacting with the community. In the original incident, Eric Garner was selling “loosies” (cigarettes), which are considered a minor infraction which leads me to believe that the New York City Police were implementing Malcolm Gladwell’s Broken Window Theory in an effort to reduce crime.


Crime is very prevalent in New York City. According to the New York Post, New York City is on track to become one of the safest cities in the U.S. Homicides are down 23% from the previous year. A significant statistic is that murders of the youngest victims between the ages of 13 and 21, have dropped by 50 percent due to a NYPD program named Operation Crew Cut which disarms small neighborhood gangs. Comparing with other cities, most murders were committed in Detroit, New Orleans, St. Louis. Baltimore, Newark, Chicago, Los Angeles, and then followed by New York.


However, even with these astonishing results most crimes in NYC are the equivalent of misdemeanors. The three most common crimes in NYC are disobeying a park sign, public urination, and possessing an open container which effectively fall within the realm of the Broken Window Theory.


The Broken Window Theory is a criminological theory of the norm-setting and signaling effect of urban disorder and vandalism on additional crime and anti-social behavior. The theory states that maintaining and monitoring urban environments to prevent small crimes such as vandalism, public drinking and toll-jumping helps to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness, thereby preventing more serious crimes from happening.


In Malcolm Gladwell’s book – The Tipping Point – he provides an example of how the broken window theorem reduced crime in New York City.  However, Rachel Nuwer, in her article, Drop in Crime Not Due to Broken Window Theory, claims that the drop in NYC crime had little to do with the Broken Window Theory or any other police strategies.


I have seen implications of the Broken Window Theory working. For example, as an assistant principal who was assigned to meet and greet students at the front door, they became accustomed to me flagging them for everything. If they came in with a hat, on I flagged them. If they were not in uniform, I flagged them. If they smelt like drugs or alcohol, I flagged them. I believe that letting them know that I was very aggressive about the little things sent the message that the big things would have heavier consequences.


I have even witnessed a glimpse of a Bronx New York City principal using the same process. The article stated that the principal walks the halls and if he sees little pieces of paper on the floor he picks it up. This is placing an emphasis on the little things with a hope that the big things will not happen. One student at the school stated that all of the student fighting had stopped at the school. this could be a result of the Broken Window Theory.


During the encounter that led to the Eric Garner death, Garner was supposedly illegally selling cigarettes on the corner. The most the Eric Garner could have been charged with was loitering. Loitering carries a very small fine. I just wonder if the Eric Garner death was the result of Malcolm Gladwell’s Broken Window Theory applied by the Stanton Island police.


Related Articles

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NYPD chokehold victim Eric Garner complicit in own death, union says

Peter King blames asthma and obesity for Eric Garner’s death. That’s a problem for the GOP.

Lupica: Grand jury should have indicted NYPD cop for chokehold death of Eric Garner

Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012


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Racism is a menace and so we’ve been taught for ages which is the primary need for a diversity expert. However, even in this modern society of today where we see a lot of colored celebrities performing on stage with huge fan followings and of course an Afro-America President for the USA, we are still in a phase where racism exists in all its brutal glory and has been eating away at the society like a plague. Classrooms, are one of the most affected areas where color differences and racism exists to its extremes. Even after decades of progress and a lot of communal efforts at bridging the gaps between colored students, white students and teachers, it is sad to say that the disparities still exist and are just as pronounced today as they were back in the 1950s. Colored students, even in the likes of New York City, are attending under resourced schools or have been significantly isolated and made to be unequal in regular schools. Even if the teachers are well-intentioned, perpetuating the structural racism that has taken deep roots into the fabric of our education system is a tough task and make the need for a diversity expert imperative. Teachers need to recognize the biases that exist within the classroom and also take conscious measures to address them and their own biases of course. James Baldwin once said, “it is your very own responsibility to change this society, if you think of yourself as an educated person.” Dr. Derrick L. Campbell took this quote very effectively and straight to the heart and thus this Classroom Racism Exterminator happened. Classroom Racism Exterminator is an initiative that will teach you about your duty and moral obligation towards eliminating racism from the classrooms. This is where and how you will learn about what you need to do to produce a better society that is free of biases and disparities amongst the blacks and the whites. Because we understand how classroom biases and conversations about racism are difficult and how teachers and students almost avoid the topics altogether, we have put together a range of effective methods and products to help address the problem at hand and talk meaningfully to counter issues related to race and racism in the classroom. Diversity expert Dr. Campbell understands that it takes a lot of courage to talk about race and racism and that racial issues need to be viewed through a very critical lens that can understand and attend to the pertaining aspects of racism in the classroom. And therefore through this website we have made a conscious effort to eliminate racism from the classroom and make the educational system equal and beneficial for all. We know and we understand that there are no words that can actually describe how racism feels. There are cases and everybody tends to deal with it in their own manner. Some might lash out verbally or others might just withdraw into shells. Whatever the case, people don’t talk about it openly and teachers don’t really make a conscious effort at addressing the issue. We don’t really know if our children or if the youth is learning to be educated or become racists in their classroom. Our program is focused on helping children of color and regardless of their race, their full potential. We want every student to be able to recognize and reach their full potential so that they think of themselves as responsible citizens of their country and not regard themselves as worthless human beings. Here you will find motivational books and flash card games, all of which have been designed focusing on eliminating racism completely from our classrooms. The books and the games have been consciously designed keeping in mind the American society and educational system. It is a small effort on our and Dr. Campbell’s part to help this society become a better place to live in. A little about diversity expert Dr. Campbell Dr. Derrick L. Campbell the driving force behind Classroom Racism Exterminator is a dynamic figure and a constant source of motivation for us. He has a Bachelors of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology, Math Education, a Masters in Education Administration and also holds a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership. Dr. Campbell is a well known personality throughout the nation. He has lectured at various events including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s Conference and a lot of local churches. He is a personality well dedicated towards eliminating the plague of racism from our classrooms and helping every child recognize his/her true potential not the color of their skin. He realizes how a child would feel if he/she was made to think they are worthless human beings. Diversity expert Dr. Campbell is compassionate and related to the experiences and therefore this initiative is a constant and continual effort to eliminate racism manifested in us, completely from the classroom and from our society.
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