Won’t You Come Back Home to Massachusetts, Bill Bratton?

May 24, 2019 GMT

Somebody call Bill Bratton. He needs to come back to Boston.

William L. Bratton is the former police commissioner of New York, Los Angeles — and Boston — who became famous for implementing the “Broken Windows” concept of policing.

The essence of the theory of Broken Windows policing is that, unless it is addressed, low-level crime and disorder in cities encourages more serious crime.

It is the exact opposite of what is happening in Boston and Suffolk County today under the progressive leadership of Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins.

Upon assuming office in January, Rollins, instead of talking about what she would do to reduce crime, released a list of 15 crimes she would not prosecute.


If you don’t think the word is out that Boston is soft on crime then witness the arrest of Glenn Kerivan, 59, in Weymouth last week for shoplifting some $126 worth of goods from Stop & Shop.

In a Herald story by reporter Sean Philip Cotter, Kerivan said he did not think shoplifting was a crime. “It’s not a crime, I thought. I saw it on tv when I was in prison,” he said.

Kerivan was right, but he was bagged in the wrong county — Norfolk County — where he was fined $500 after pleading guilty. Had he been caught shoplifting in Boston, under Rollins’ no prosecution policy, he would have walked.

So, the Boston cops must be thinking, why bother to make the arrest in the first place? But if he is concerned, Boston Police Commissioner William Gross has been strangely silent over Rollins’s policy of allowing criminals arrested by his cops to walk—that is, if they are even arrested in the first place.

And watch for crime statistics to go down because if you are not prosecuting criminals, there is no crime.

It is no wonder the Retailers Association of Massachusetts is so upset. Can the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce be far behind?

Ryan Kearney, the association’s general counsel, said Rollins’ decision not to prosecute creates an “open season on our retail stores.”

Echoing Broken Windows, Kearney said that illegal profits from non -violent crimes “find their way to seed money for more serious crimes,” like “drugs or gun-running.”

The Rollins approach is a far cry from Broken Windows of the 1990s and early 2000s,which was largely later abandoned by because of charges that it discriminated against blacks and minorities who, by the way, were committing most of the crimes.

But Broken Windows worked. The theory was originally proposed by the late George L. Kelling, a criminologist, and James Q. Wilson, a Harvard professor.


Basically, the theory proposed that if broken windows in a vacant building were not quickly repaired, vandals would only return to break more windows. Then they would proceed to break into the building and trash the place before setting it on fire. One small crime, if unaddressed, would lead to a larger crime.

The classic example was the 1990s crackdown of ’squeegee men” in New York City — generally unemployed or homeless men---who, unasked, would clean your windshield in traffic and demand payment.

Bratton, who served as Boston police commissioner under Boston Mayor Ray Flynn in 1993-1994 — before heading for New York — was also a strong believer in police diversity and community policing.

He maintained that implementation of Broken Windows required serious police training, guidelines and supervision along with community dialogue and involvement.

Under his leadership, and through Broken Windows, he was able to reduce serious crime in New York and then later in Los Angeles.

The program has largely been abandoned after liberals protested that it was racist in that it discriminated against minorities and the poor.And Bill Bratton, who called him memoir, called “Turnaround: How America’s Top Cop Reversed the Crime Epidemic,” wouldn’t come back anyway.

I wouldn’t either. Rollins is turning the place into Shoplift City.

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