The intense "Broken Windows" crime-fighting effort began in Denver's Westwood neighborhood in February 2006 and ended in August. The result: Crime dropped 16 percent from the same period in 2005.
Even better results were recorded in the Mar Lee and Harvey Park neighborhoods after Broken Windows moved there. Now, police are targeting Athmar Park, also in southwest Denver, where major crimes are down 16 percent from January through May, police report.
Broken Windows was adopted in 2005 as part of Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's plan to revamp city policing amid rising crime and declining arrests.
The tactic involves heightened police attention to more minor crimes, decentralized enforcement and the better use of crime data to spot trends and needs. It was rolled out in police District 4 and has been used in varying degrees elsewhere in the city.
"You can't argue with the statistics," said District 4 police officer Les Tucker, a member of one of two seven-person Special Crime Attack Teams (SCAT) now blanketing Athmar Park. "It's effective."
Still, crime has declined citywide over the last two years, not just in Broken Windows neighborhoods. Studies are split on how well it works. And despite the popularity of Broken Windows, there is concern about what happens when the program moves out and about where the crime goes when a neighborhood is targeted.
"One of the complaints I heard was that when Broken Windows was in Westwood, the crime moved to Athmar," Denver City Councilman Chris Nevitt said. "That's a fair complaint, but I don't think it's something that undermines its value. When you start to mop up a spill, the spill is going to move away from the mop, but you're still mopping it up."
Rocky Mountain News