New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio came into office promising to curtail the aggressive use of stop and frisk, which he and other critics argue, was being used to unfairly single out minorities.
But de Blasio also put his faith in Bill Braton, his pick to head the city's police department. Bratton is one of the pioneers of the "broken windows" policing technique, designed to crack down on low-level offenses based on the theory that doing so reduces more serious crimes.
Under that theory, strictly enforcing minor crimes such as loitering and fare-jumping helps cut down on more severe offenses.
That theory was also put into practice under de Blasio's predecessor and the results, judging from an analysis by the New York Daily News, appear to show that minorities are disproportionately affected. The newspaper looked at minor offense data from 2001 to 2013.
The News found the correlation between race and summonses was not strong for offenses like motor vehicle violations and unlawful possession of alcohol for a minor. But others — like spitting, disorderly conduct, loitering, open container and failure to have a dog license — were more likely to be doled out in predominately black and Hispanic precincts.
In some precincts, the rate of summonses was more than 1 in 10 residents last year, such as the 25th Precinct (East Harlem North), which is 90% black and Hispanic, where there were 18 summonses per 100 residents; the 40th Precinct (Mott Haven, Bronx), which is 98% black and Hispanic (16 per 100 residents); and the 41st Precinct (Hunts Point, Bronx), which is 98% black and Hispanic, (16 per 100 residents).
"My neighborhood is like it’s under martial law. We got all these rookie officers on each corner. These officers, they just run around and ask you for any excuse to ask you for your ID and write you a summons,” Angel Garcia, 34, of East Harlem, told the News while waiting in line at summons court last month.
Story continues below ...
Broken windows got a fresh batch of criticism after the July 17 death of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old father who died after an altercation that began when police accused him of selling untaxed cigarettes.
Many researchers have said there's not much statistical evidence to suggest that broken windows was responsible for the significant reduction of crime over the last two decades.
But de Blasio remains an advocate, though he did hint that he would seek to reform the practice.
"Everyone should be treated equally." de Blasio said, when asked about the News' racial disparity report at a press conference. "You're going to see a number of adjustments as we go along."