Mayor Endorses 'Broken Windows' Policing, Submits Toughened Ordinance

By Ted Cox on March 13, 2013 2:57pm 

 Mayor Rahm Emanuel says punishing small crimes can keep them from turning into larger crimes.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel says punishing small crimes can keep them from turning into larger crimes.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — Mayor Rahm Emanuel endorsed the so-called broken-windows police strategy Wednesday and backed it up by proposing a toughened crime ordinance.

The proposed ordinance would stiffen fines for minor crimes such as gambling, drinking and public urination and would jail those who fail to appear at hearings.

The tougher approach was advanced earlier in the week by Police Supt. Garry McCarthy under the theory that cracking down on light crimes would deter more significant problems such as the city's murder rate and gun violence.

Emanuel echoed that after Wednesday's City Council meeting, saying that broken windows and his new crime ordinance were "dealing with small, petty crimes so that things don't emerge to bigger problems."

He called the police policy "strategic saturation," concentrating on all crime in troubled areas, but emphasized it was only a tool added to the law-enforcement arsenal.

"No one of these things on their own will solve the problem," Emanuel said. "You have to make all pieces work together."

Ald. Edward Burke (14th) said much the same earlier as the City Council passed an expanded gun-offender registry.

Burke said an ordinance he proposed in 2006 and that passed in 2010 had produced fewer than 500 registered gun offenders in the city, who must check in with police every year for four years. The new legislation expanded offenders from gun-law violators to anyone who commits a crime with a gun, including kidnapping and auto theft.

"Even if it doesn't wave a magic wand over violent crime, it's another tool" for law enforcement, Burke said.

"Is it helpful?" Emanuel said. "Without a doubt, that's why I supported it. But every aspect has to be worked on simultaneously. You can't point to one thing and say that will take care of the problem."

Emanuel emphasized what he called the "four P's" and said these two measures, taken together, addressed two of them: strategic policing and stiffer penalties. But also essential, he added, are smart prevention and sensitive parenting.

 

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