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Policing as Public Health: A 2024 View of Broken Windows    

Tuesday November 2023


Anthony Braga Jerry Lee Professor of Criminology and Director of the Crime and Justice Policy Lab, University of Pennsylvania
Benjamin Tucker Retired First Deputy Police Commissioner, New York City Police Department, former Deputy Director for Operations in the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Department of Justice

The late Manhattan Institute scholar George L. Kelling developed his ideas through exhaustive fieldwork, spending time out on the street and riding along with police. His observations led not only to his co-authored description of "broken windows" dynamics of public disorder, but also inspired hosts of policy directives and further research projects, contributing vastly to community safety.  

But today, criminal justice strategies are too often not based on real-world observations. The willful exclusion of hard data has led to increased disorder and undermined productive conversation on policing and crime control. How can we regain a deeper understanding of the dynamics of disorder and community—and the reality that law enforcement plays an integral role?  

In our fourth annual George L. Kelling Lecture, eminent criminologist Anthony Braga proposes understanding policing as part of public health: reducing community harm by providing interventions that keep people safe. Indeed, police have for decades greened public spaces and connected vulnerable citizens to social services—traditional public health–type projects—because these strategies simply work. Former NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker will join Braga to discuss how citizens and agencies can better engage with law enforcement to reorient toward policies that are actually backed up by the evidence.

Download Professor Braga's presentation here