Broken Windows Policing and Constructions of Space and Crime: Flatbush, Brooklyn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While broken windows policing has triggered explosive debates about law enforcement and racism across US cities, it has maintained considerable support by racialized urbanites. Focusing on Flatbush, Brooklyn, this paper seeks to understand the striking resilience of broken windows in inner-city contexts. It uses Laclau and Mouffe's discourse theory to analyze dialogue at Precinct Community Council meetings and interviews with attendees. The paper makes the case that the New York Police Department normalizes broken windows through discursive constructions of social space and crime that naturalize the precinct scale, produce spatial meanings, and cast social difference in the mold of broken windows theory. The article illustrates beyond the politics of racialized fearmongering, the normalization of broken windows also occurs through this meticulous production of geographic knowledge. It also emphasizes that deconstructing the way the police portray space and crime provides signposts for substantive reform to broken windows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1270-1291
Number of pages22
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • NYPD
  • New York City
  • Precinct Community Council
  • broken windows theory
  • police

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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