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Do Police Matter? An Analysis of the Impact of New York City’s Police Reforms

Tuesday December 2001


George L. Kelling, Ph.D. Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute
William H. Sousa, Jr. Director of Evaluation Police Institute, Rutgers University

Introduction: Bernard B. Kerik, Commissioner, New York Police Department

New York City’s dramatic crime decline was the urban success story of the 1990s. But as mayors and police 12 departments worldwide flocked to Manhattan to learn the NYPD’s secrets, many academics were casting doubt upon the City’s achievement. They contended that the Department’s new tactics – such as “broken windows” policing and Compstat – were not the reasons crime dropped so precipitously. Instead, they argued, factors beyond police control, such as the improving economy or decreasing drug use, drove the decline in crime.

Despite the wide import this dispute has for public policy, neither side has yet produced a well-constructed study that provides statistical support for their claims.