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McCarthy Endorses ‘Broken Windows’ Approach For Some Offenses

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy (Credit: CBS)

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(CBS) – Chicago should adopt a New York-style, zero-tolerance approach to criminal offenses such as drinking and urinating in public and illegal gambling, the city’s top cop said Monday.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy indicated support for a proposed ordinance working its way through the City Council that would allow officers to arrest individuals who ignore tickets they received for the bad behavior. People who pay the fines and comply with the law would not be targeted, he said.

McCarthy says the idea harks back to his former city, New York, which imposed a so-called “broken-windows” theory of policing that is credited with making the Big Apple safer. Under the concept, police do not tolerate minor infractions such as broken windows and thus nip more serious crimes in the bud.

“Fixing the little things prevents the bigger things,” McCarthy said at a news conference about anti-gang efforts.

McCarthy says 65 percent of the tickets police issue for the “quality-of-life” violations are currently ignored by offenders.

“If those tickets go unanswered, the next time we encounter that individual, they will be placed under arrest,” he said. “That will change the behavior of the criminal who previously threw that ticket away.”

The superintendent’s remarks about zero tolerance come as his department is facing criticism for redirecting officers away from certain emergency calls to focus on violence in neighborhoods. Officers will no longer respond in person to crimes such as car thefts and home burglaries where offenders have already gotten away. The department will still document the crimes.