Prosecutors are obligated to protect victims & witnesses, have consideration for the innocent, and respect the rights of all citizens including suspects and defendants. Yet, across America, a growing number of District Attorneys are refusing to prosecute certain crimes, ignoring the victim’s rights and the impact on communities.
In 1969, Philip Zimbardo, a psychologist from Stanford University, ran a field study where he abandoned two cars in two very different cities: one in a mostly poor, crime-ridden section of New York City, and the other in an affluent neighborhood of Palo Alto, CA. Both cars were left without license plates and parked with their hoods up.
After just 10 minutes, passersby in New York City began vandalizing the car. First it was stripped for parts, then vandals began destroying it. In Palo Alto, the other car remained untouched. Finally, after a week, Zimbardo did something unusual: He took a sledgehammer and gave the California car a smash. Almost immediately, passersby quickly ripped it apart, just as they’d done in New York.
This field study was a demonstration of how something that is obviously neglected becomes a quick target for vandals and criminals. This theory eventually morphed into one of the most influential theories of criminology: The “broken windows” theory.
It isn’t just elements of the physical environment that sets the Broken Window Theory in motion. The same applies when District Attorneys, Mayors and other public officials fail to carry out their constitutional obligation for protection and to provide security to the citizens of their cities and they do so in favor of a political ideology conveniently camouflaged as “social justice.”
In Dallas, Texas, District Attorney John Creuzot has declared he will “de-criminalize poverty.” To achieve his goal, he is enacting aggressive policy changes in how his prosecutors handle bail and petty crimes. Thus, eroding feelings of safety in an era where there is rampant package theft, shoplifting and car break-ins, criminals seemly get a pass since Creuzot’s threshold for prosecution is set at $750.00.
In San Francisco, Proposition 47 severely reduced penalties for property crimes and since, the city has since seen a dramatic increase in property crime rates. Perhaps the most well-known abuse is from Chicago where District Attorney Kim Foxx dropped charges against actor Jessie Smollett who was charged with staging an attack on himself and then falsely claiming he was the victim of a hate crime. Add to this a revolving door of mass criminal releases as well as the lowering of bonds for violent criminals and we have a recipe for disaster in cities all across America.
Blurring of legal lines does not make us a safer America. What happens to the victims of unprosecuted crimes? Do the criminals simply take what they want, and the victims no longer have rights to their property? Consider the small business owner – the backs upon which this country is built, many who are struggling to keep their doors open. How many $750 thefts can they financially survive? How do we, as a society, reconcile the message that a certain amount of crime is okay?
Simply look at an abandoned home or factory in Anytown, USA. Break one window and in a short time, all windows are soon to be busted out. Allow graffiti on the side of a building and quickly more will follow, and so on. Be it physical vandalism or blurring the lines within the criminal justice system, the results are the same, broken windows and broken promises will effectively lead to more decay.
The American Criminal Justice System may not be perfect, but it is by far better than any other in the world. We operate on the “Best Evidence Rule” and allow the facts to tell an unbiased story. It is our job to properly collect and preserve the truth.
READ MORE: THE BROTHERHOOD: HAVE WE LOST OUR WAY?
Imagine a system that ignored these truths, a system that would allow for the arbitrary substitution of assumption for facts. A system that would overtly suppress facts that didn’t fit our prejudice towards a desired outcome. That would be a sure recipe for chaos. Would that not be the true definition of social injustice?
Law Enforcement leaders all across this country must sound the alarms and hold elected officials accountable for refusing to prosecute these crimes and ignoring the negative consequences of their actions to the very people they were elected to serve. No one knows our profession better than the dedicated men and women who pin on a badge every single day.
We must offer our first hand insight on this issue and illustrate that ignoring the rule of law leads to decay. During a recent trip to the White House, the Executive board of the FOP expressed this very concern to President Trump and his administration. Board members also requested they too call out the inequities of this trend.
Blurring the lines of what is legal sends mixed messages, weakens our communities and certainly makes our already difficult job of policing, much more dangerous.
At the bottom line, it all comes down to saving just ONE life.
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