Chicago's Top Cop Touts 'Broken Windows' Strategy

March 12, 2013
The new strategy would allow officers to arrest those who ignore tickets for routine offenses.

Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Monday that he wanted to bring a "broken windows" strategy to Chicago that would allow officers to arrest those who ignore tickets for routine offenses like gambling and public urination.

"Fixing the little things prevents the bigger things," McCarthy said during a news conference at the Harrison district station. He has long been an advocate of the "broken windows" approach -- the idea that eradicating public drunkenness and other signposts of community decay is crucial to making neighborhoods safer.

The superintendent said an ordinance would be proposed to the City Council to allow police to arrest those who fail to pay tickets for public urination, public consumption of alcohol and gambling, "the three top complaints" from residents.

Currently, 65 percent of the tickets go unpaid, McCarthy said.

"This ordinance is going to make it so that if those tickets go unanswered, the next time we encounter that individual, they will be placed under arrest," he said. "That will change the behavior of the criminal who previously threw that ticket away."

"When we approach somebody and stop them for public consumption of alcohol, we may find they have a warrant for their arrest for something else," McCarthy added. "So it's another method of doing good law enforcement."

Last year, Chicago police made hundreds of arrests for fare evasion and other minor offenses on the CTA that authorities think are directly linked to more serious and sometimes violent crimes committed against train and bus riders. CTA officials and Chicago police say the vast majority of people who skip out on paying fares or use the emergency exits to pass illegally between moving rail cars are robbers, thieves and con artists searching for the most vulnerable passengers on the train.

A common tactic involves criminals grabbing cellphones and other electronic devices, or snatching purses and wallets from passengers on platforms or when a train is pulling into a station, police said.

Copyright 2013 - Chicago Tribune

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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