Sunset Park

Broken windows policing focus of Sunset Park forum

Eric Gonzalez, Letitia James among invited speakers

June 26, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The town hall, organized by the group El Grito de Sunset Park, is expected to feature a lively discussion on police-community relations. Photo courtesy of El Grito de Sunset Park
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“Broken windows,” a crime-fighting theory practiced by NYPD for decades, holds that putting an emphasis on fighting quality-of-life crimes such as vandalism, public drinking and turnstile-jumping helps to create an atmosphere of law and order and prevents more serious crimes from taking place.

But several community watchdog groups in Brooklyn, like El Grito de Sunset Park, have charged that “broken windows” policing has given police officers a license to abuse their authority. 

El Grito de Sunset Park, which is a member organization of a larger group known as the Coalition to End Broken Windows, will host a town hall event this week to discuss the controversial policing practice. El Grito is Spanish for “The Outcry.”

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The town hall will take place on Friday, June 30, in the Sunset Park Recreation Center, 4200 Seventh Ave., at 6 p.m. 

Public Advocate Letitia James and Acting Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez are among the officials who have been invited to the forum. 

“The ‘broken windows’ theory has been wrong from the very start,” Dennis Flores, co-founder of El Grito de Sunset Park, told the Brooklyn Eagle. “It was supposed to get police to focus on quality-of-life issues. But they are training police to aggressively go after people for minor offenses. When you do that, it takes away resources for fighting serious crimes. Police should focus on serious crimes.”

The Coalition to End Broken Windows recently issued a report called “People’s Agenda,” containing a 22-point blueprint for ending the era of “Broken Windows.” The report’s findings will be part of the discussion at the town hall.

“We have a lot of good ideas in the report. We’re not just complaining about things. We’re offering solutions,” Flores said.

One example of a possible solution to “broken windows” Flores offered involves street vendor permits issued by the city.

“There’s a cap on the number of permits issued to street vendors. That cap should be lifted,” he said, adding that lifting the cap would allow vendors, many of whom are immigrants, to operate legally without fear of NYPD crackdowns.

Low-level enforcement disproportionately targets communities of color and other vulnerable groups, according to leaders of El Grito de Sunset Park, who said that 92 percent of the nearly 30,000 arrests for fare-evasion that take place every year involve people of color. 

In 2016, the NYC Department of Investigation released a report that called into question the effectiveness of “broken windows.” The report questioned whether enforcement of quality-of-life crimes reduces the rate of serious crime.



For more information on the town hall, visit


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