EditorialEditorial - Broken windows

Editorial – Broken windows


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The City Council of Dumaguete, in aid of legislation, is soliciting suggestions on how to improve the City’s peace and order situation, in the light of the some recent unsolved killings which many have come to describe as “alarming.”

This perception persists despite police statistics which say that the police have already solved 11 out of the 18 homicide cases in Dumaguete for this year alone. It is certain that several well-meaning citizens will offer suggestions, if they haven’t done so yet.

In a forum called by the City Council at the Quezon Park last week, suggestions were made to improve crime-fighting equipment and police training, while there were also suggestions to improve crime-fighting methods and tactics.

The suggestions seem fine, on the surface, but they seem to address the big issues while forgetting the more important issues. Preventing crime by removing disorderly behavior in our community is an oft-forgotten but very vital piece of the puzzle. It’s called the Broken Windows Theory.

Originally proposed by Dr. James Q. Wilson and George Kelling, the broken windows theory suggests that a society or subset of society that appears to be lawless will itself breed lawlessness.

The central theme of broken windows theory holds that when neighborhoods appear to be broken down, disordered, and generally unfriendly, they serve as a magnet to delinquent behavior and crime.

This is essentially to say that communities that lack in any sense of social cohesion and mutual interest witness a significantly higher risk of criminality.

In Dumaguete, motorists will tell you that most traffic rules here are not followed. Traffic rules seem to be mere suggestions, and are, in fact, ignored. People drive against one way streets, vehicles are parked opposite the flow of traffic, motorcyclists overtake on the right. Surely, you must have your own list to add.

No one has ever been fined for littering or jaywalking.

This is exactly the type of behavior that the Broken Windows Theory seeks to address. Solve these problems and you will undoubtedly see more order in the City.

The application of this theory has worked wonders in New York City when Rudy Guilliani was mayor. In the Philippines, this is also the secret for the transformation of Marikina under Bayani Fernando.

If they were able to do it in Marikina and New York cities, surely, it will work in Dumaguete! It’s just that no one was probably serious enough to give it a try.

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