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date: 20 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This essay examines the rise of zero-tolerance policies in policing and in other parts of the social world with the aim of considering how such policies have come about, what they intended, and what they have accomplished for better or worse. The number and types of police strategies have ballooned over the past twenty years or so. Some focus on improving police and public relations, while others are associated with “crime attack,” “broken windows,” and other forms of increased police control. Zero-tolerance policies have their roots in “problem solving,” yet they diverge from the problem-solving model by focusing almost exclusively on aggressive order-maintenance enforcement toward less serious public order behavior. Evidence of the effects of such activities is mixed, with some studies finding that are positive, and others showing erosion of police legitimacy in the face of zero-tolerance actions. The implications of such findings for public policing are considered.

Keywords: order maintenance, problem-solving, deterrence, broken windows, community policing, police legitimacy, police and community relations, zero tolerance

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