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Abstract

This article explores patterns of police "stop and frisk" activity across New York City neighborhoods. While “Broken Windows” theory may account for higher stop and frisk activity for “quality of life” crimes, the authors suggest neighborhood characteristics like racial composition, poverty levels, and extent of social disorganization are strong predictors of race- and crime-specific stops. The authors consider whether street-stops in various neighborhoods comply with the Terry standard of reasonable suspicion as insight into the social and strategic meaning of policing. Their empirical evidence suggests policing focuses on policing poor people in poor places. Their strategy departs from "Broken Windows" theory by concentrating on people and not disorder. They suggest racially disparate police targeting raises concern about legitimacy of law, weakens citizen cooperation with police, and undermines the social goals of policing.

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