Police can’t get tough on crime until we help them fix a crisis of their own

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Editor’s note: This op-ed is adapted from an article that first appeared in City Journal.

More than 40 years have passed since the publication of one of the most important public-policy essays ever written. Its title, “Broken Windows,” captured the essence of a simple but deeply insightful idea: public order matters. “[I]f a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken,” wrote the late authors, political scientist James Q. Wilson and longtime Manhattan Institute senior fellow George L. Kelling, in the March 1982 issue of The Atlantic.  

Visible signs of chaos were like warnings: you’re not safe here. If left unaddressed, the chaos made those areas more vulnerable to further disorder, including serious crime. “‘[U]ntended’ behavior,” the authors maintained, “leads to

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