Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Police Policies Target Poor and Minorities.

CCJRC members Lisa Calderon of Safehouse Allinace and Colorado Progressive Coalition are concerned about the effects of "Broken Window's" policing policies and how they are affecting poor neighborhoods. Yesterday we reported that arrests were up 14% citywide.

A crime-fighting effort by Denver police is drawing protests in the Cole-Whittier neighborhood from some residents who say officers are unfairly targeting minorities and the poor.

"It's been effective in other parts of the city and other parts of the country, and we still stand behind it," Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson said Tuesday.

This week, some residents aided by the Colorado Progressive Coalition have been placing leaflets on doors to denounce "broken windows" policing.

The policing effort aggressively targets small crimes such as loitering, graffiti and public drunkenness as a way to prevent more serious crime.

Denver police have credited the program for helping to bring down crime numbers in many parts of the city recently.

"We all want safer neighborhoods to live in and are concerned about violence, but we are also concerned whether that violence is coming from gangs or abuse from authority," said Lisa Calderon, a Cole resident and legal- and social-policy director for the Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence.

Also, the Colorado Progressive Coalition is surveying residents about their experience with police and asking neighbors what they believe are alternatives to the beefed-up patrol presence.

Police District 2 Cmdr. Rhonda Jones said the initiative in Cole-Whittier is not called "broken windows" because that name sometimes connotes negative feelings.

The Denver Post

1 comment:

ColeMemoirs said...

With all due respect, I think that anyone whose passion lies in reforming the current policing system in America, or wants to change the current incarceration model in America's law enforcement system, owes it to themselves to TRULY understand the Broken Windows theory and the science and thought behind it.

By TRULY understand, I mean read the book; research the background and other contributions of its authors, etc. Not just do a quick Google search, as so many of us do to learn more about a topic.

As a Cole resident concerned about crime, I initially welcomed Broken Windows simply because it was a program targeted at fighting the frustrating and pervasive crime problem in the area.

The tremendous amount of resistance among individuals like Ms. Calderon and groups like the Colorado Progressive Coalition inspired me to purchase the Broken Windows book, so that I could fully understand this theory that so polarizes residents.

After reading the book, I support Broken Windows even more, though for different reasons.

Sorry for the digression, but coming back to my point--If you think the current policing and criminal justice system in America (referred to as "reform" policing, by the way, where police are simply the entry point to the courts and jails, reactively responding to committed crimes and 911 calls)--You owe it to yourself to research Broken Windows further, because the theory suggests that our current policing model is broken, too.

Broken Windows isn't just about increased police presence, as so many critics (and even supporters) boil it down to. It is even more focused on increased community collaboration with the police, and accountability for both reducing crime, but also increasing the public's trust and satisfaction with the police.

It's also about changing the way police do their jobs, to further aid them in supporting the comminity while reducing complaints of harassment and profiling.

How? Well, for one, getting police officers out of their cars more and into the neighborhoods on foot and bike patrol. This allows them to interact more with the comminities they protect, and very importantly, get to know residents--So that they can better distinguish between residents and bad guys.

Second, the theory focuses much more on crime prevention than enforcement. In other words, by being more visible and approachable in the neighborhood; by getting more community members involved; and returning police officers to a more traditional and historic role and scope of police responsibilities--Only one of which is arrests.

Will it work? Will it be sustainable? I don't know. But I encourage those critical of the program to do three things:

1. Read the book as I did
2. Attend the police-community collaboration meetings happening now in Cole-Whittier. Be heard, but more importantly, be involved in the process and the solution, instead of just contributing to the problem as I feel some critics are.
3. Participate in the upcoming safety surveys in Cole-Whittier, both pre- and post- program implementation. This survey is an incredibly key element of this program, and the single most tangible way to gauge the program's effectiveness in evaluating residents' satisfaction with it.

Thanks for reading.