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'Broken Windows' Defender Rudy Giuliani Distancing Himself From 'Zero Tolerance' Approach

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RUDY GIULIANI
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is distancing himself from the "zero tolerance" approach to "broken windows" policing. Here, Giuliani speaks at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research Alexander Hamilton Award Dinner, Monday, May 12, 2014, in New York. | ASSOCIATED PRESS

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, one of the most aggressive proponents of a "zero tolerance" approach to "broken windows" policing, is now reversing his stance, saying the controversial method “doesn’t have to be rigidly enforced."

"You don’t enforce every rule, you don’t enforce it, you don’t enforce a rule against fare beating in the same way you do the laws against homicide," Giuliani said during an appearance on Geraldo Rivera's radio show Friday.

The "zero tolerance" descriptor commonly attached to "broken windows" -- which encourages police officers to heavily target minor crimes to theoretically prevent larger, more serious crimes -- has instead been the product of a misguided media, Giuliani said.

But as Capital New York points out, Giuliani has repeatedly used the "zero tolerance" characterization when discussing the technique.

"Broken windows" has been under intense scrutiny following the chokehold death of Eric Garner, who was suspected of selling illegal cigarettes when he was approached by police last month.

Current New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton, who also led the NYPD during Giuliani's administration, have since defended the policing strategy and said it would continue despite criticism.

“Breaking a law is breaking a law, and it has to be addressed,” de Blasio said at a press conference addressing the investigation into Garner's death.

During Friday's radio appearance, Giuliani also echoed the skepticism expressed by police unions, saying he could not say for certain if Garner had indeed died from a chokehold.

“When I look at that video, I can’t tell if it’s a chokehold or if it was a move meant to take the guy down,” he said. “The police can’t help it if you start acting wild, you start acting nasty, they have to react.”

On Aug. 1, the city's medical examiner officially ruled Garner's death a homicide after the man was placed in a illegal chokehold by police.

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