The term zero tolerance has been interpreted differently, by many people in America as well as the whole globe at large. The term has also been used widely by individuals including politicians, activists, religious leaders, as well as spokesmen and women in public debates and other forums. In the production field, zero tolerance of defects is referred to as a quality reassurance aim while in dealing with prohibited drugs; zero tolerance is referred to as a clear statement of intent. Some of the citizens in America claim that the zero tolerance was policing a responsible for the decline of criminal activities in the United States of America. Nevertheless, such a declaration is one-dimensional in the extreme as crime prevention and reduction in the United States of America involves many interconnecting and relating strategies. This research paper aims at providing the general acceptable definition of zero tolerance policing as well as the going to the extent of describing the policy, and explaining its significance in the dominion of law enforcement, its implications as well as areas where the policy is applicable.
There will also be a critical review on the effectiveness of zero tolerance policing which will be made possible through the use of literature as a guide and available research. In criminal justice within the field of policing, evidence-based practices have acquired force as agencies and policies have shifted their attention towards operating under the guidance of what works. Given the importance and weight carried by the works movement, I will discuss and examine techniques of such a movement as well as their drawbacks. The paper shall conclude by summarizing the clear definition of zero tolerance policing as well as a recommendation whether the policy should continue being used, revised, or abolished after a thorough understanding of the evidence.
Definition and background of zero tolerance
Zero tolerance as a policy is not easily defined. The plan involves imposing immediate punishment for contraventions of a stated rule. The policy aims at eradicating any undesirable conduct in the society. Zero tolerance policies forbid persons in any position of authority from practicing discretion or changing punishments to fit the circumstances subjectively. The policy states that that any people regardless of their status are required to impose a pre-determined punishment regardless of individual blameworthiness. In the recent times, the term has been used to refer to a certain number of concepts. The term was first used in North America in connection with drug fight. Later the policy was used in specific campaign where there was fight against women violation.
Zero tolerance policing is associated many aspects that include being tough on crime. This implies that all laws will be enforced and that the offenders will be apprehended and will not get away with the crime. In case the offender is found guilty, he or she will face harsh punishment. The policy is also used to refer to the practice of strict, non-discretionary law enforcement. This is illustrated by the approach of drink drive that was initiated in South Australia. In this policy, the policy is involved where they are actively involved in highways detecting drivers who are drunk. The activity is facilitated by the use of an extensive random breath testing operations. In case a person is found with illegal alcohol level, he or she is charged with that offense. Also, the drink drivers receive relatively harsh penalties that include license disqualifications, a jail term, or a fine. However, the primary practice of this law is the police action against minor offenses and disorders. Under this policy, are not expected to ignore minor crime and disorders.
importance and implications of zero tolerance policing
Police will not ignore minor crime and unruly behavior but will specifically pay attention to the so-called quality of life crimes such as public drinking, graffiti, vagrancy, vandalism, and public urinating. Paying attention to these crimes is related to the broken windows theory of crime. The word broken window is used as a metaphor to describe the impact of ignored disorderly behavior and minor offenses in the society. Kelling and Wilson claimed that if a broken window in a building is not repaired and monitored, then the sense that nobody checks the windows will result in the breaking of the other windows. The theory is applicable in crime in such a way that if minor criminal acts are ignored, it creates a platform and an atmosphere of lawlessness, and social decay takes root in the community. This in turn leads to the development serious crimes as criminals believe that they will go untamed.
This theory led to strict enforcement of petty crime and remediation of the physical decay that in turn would cut out the growth of a conducive environment for solemn criminal activities. The theory led to significant changes in policing in many jurisdictions in the United States of America, North of America, and the United Kingdom. In New York City in America, there was a significant decline in criminal activities after the policy was put in place and conducted efficiently. The policy was made effective in the 1990s where the police adopted a geographically and temporally selective policy of responding to criminal charges. This included even the most minor criminal offenses. After a thorough investigation, it becomes evident that many of the minor crime offenders had a history of more severe and dangerous criminal activities. Arresting the minor crime offenders prevented them from further practicing their illegal activities. It also posted warning to those minor crime offenders who were still practicing the act without the police being aware to quit as they will soon be caught, and a heavy punishment awaits them. Additionally, the risk of being arrested for minor offenses discouraged the carrying of firearms hence resulting to the reduction of both robbery rates as well as homicide cases. The theory led to a decline in criminal activities level in North America as a well as in the United States of America.
Zero tolerance policy was evident in New York City and led to the decline in criminal activities. This happened when Bratton was elevated to become the police commissioner of New York City. The commissioner described the city as a city that had stopped caring for its self. This was because of the high rate of criminal activities that were being conducted in the city, its state of lawlessness, as well as the level of insecurity. To put stop to all those activities, he initiated a strategic re-engineering which demoralized the New York City police department using the crime control plans which focused on youth crime, guns, drugs, corruption, auto theft, quality of life crimes, traffic, and domestic violence. The commissioner also involved detectives in his plans and used timely, intelligent, and accurate data.
Technology was the key resource as it was used to identify places and people who were at risk instead of reacting to individual incidents as they occur. In addition to the use of the strategies, the police executive departments meet frequently to discuss their progress as well as the way forward. The meeting stressed on the use of intelligence data when crime mapping. The commissioner also made sure that all the staff in the police department was trustworthy. This was evident as street officers were given the authority to make any drug arrest while the detectives were given the right to use some computer systems. In the previous era to give a detective an access to some computer systems was viewed as a risk of corruption. Not only did it enhance trust in the department but also fought against corruption. Furthermore, the officers were instructed to place emphasis on the quality of life crimes as well as serious offenses.
This was aimed at reducing behaviors such as public drinking, graffiti, over speeding and littering. The policy also includes the arrest of persons suspected to be involved in more serious criminal activities which is known as misdemeanors arrests. For example, young people who were alleged to be involved in criminal or gang activities were detained for committing minor crimes such as driving without license or loitering and later while in the police custody investigated. Also searching was conducted to anyone arrested on the basis of a minor crime. Also stop and frisk policy was widely used against anyone suspected of carrying drugs or armaments.
The experience from the New York City Department was an example of zero tolerance policing as it included being tough on crime, and using the nondiscriminatory policing on the minor offenses. However, activities such as working with the trust, and intelligence also contributed to the decline of crime in the city. Also restructuring the police department played a vital role. Most analyst states that there was the reduction of homicide activities from 74% to 50% while violent crime reduced to 30%. In total, the overall crime in the city reduced from 80% to 47% that was a significant drop. Moreover, there was a decline the quality of life crimes. This was evident because motor crime decreased by 42% while burglaries and robberies reduced by 32%. The change in the policing system which led to the inclusion of stops and frisk policy resulted in the reduction of the number of the young people carrying guns in the city. After comparing the crime levels in the previous years when Bratton was not the commissioner and had not initiated the zero tolerance policing which was before 1990s while the following years after implementation of the policy, it proved that the policy contributed to decline in criminal activities in the New York City.
Below are graphs that show how the crime level decreased by comparing the criminal activities in the previous years before the In diagram 2, where the other cities applied other methods excluding the zero tolerance policing, there was a significant decline of homicide activities, violent activities, as well as quality of life crime from the year 1970s to 2000s were the was a major decline due to the introduction of technological ways of dealing with criminal activities. In diagram 2 where the graph presents the use of zero tolerance policing with the combination of other methods of dealing with criminal activities, there was a radical decline in all of the criminal activities. There is a major decline from the year the 1990s since it was when the policy was put into practice by the new commissioner.
Implications of zero tolerance policing
The zero tolerance policing had its consequences in the New York City on the city resources. On the one hand, between the years 1995 to 2000 the total number of individual arrested in the city increased by 15% while the number of misdemeanor arrest risen by 30 %. This had its implications on the city’s court as its workload increased and correctional facilities. The policy consumed a lot of capital from the taxpayers as the number of police were increased so as to be in position to conduct the stop and frisk policy as well as to keep an eye on the minor criminal activities. There were also a lot of resources needed in the court of law to deal with the increased arrests.
There was growth in human population in the prisons, this in turn required a lot of resources to maintain them as well as increasing poverty in the communities as some families depended on them. The zero tolerance policing of minor offenses increased the number of offenders arrested. On the other hand, this policy led to reduced number of individual loitering on the streets as they feared being arrested which would cost them a fine. There was also a reduction of minor criminal activities that cut down the growth of serious and dangerous crime actions. This lead to improvement in the security of the city and hence people could conduct their business without fear. This led to the city to grow economically. The city also thrived socially as people could interact without fear due to the decline in the crime levels.
Areas of application
The policy is relevant in many facets of life. The system is applicable in the workplace and hence it is referred to as zero tolerance policing and harassment and bullying in the workplace. Institution, companies as well as organizations have adopted the policy to prevent some of the undesirable behavior like harassment. When individuals in an organization are punished or fined for minor crimes, uprooting of significant and severe crimes is rare to occur as they fear the kind of punishment that would befall the individual hence abiding within the rules and regulations of the group.
In the fight against drugs in a nation, zero tolerance policing also proves to be useful. In the United States of America, the policy was used to fight against drugs. The system was first designed in the era of Ronald Reagan as part of the war on drugs. The policy was designed in such a manner that it was to target the drug users rather than the suppliers and transporters. The laws demanded that any individual found with any illegal drug was to suffer a harsh sentence. The inclusion of a harsh sentence and strict enforcement of personal use would reduce the demand of the drugs and hence strike at the root cause of the drug saga. On the general view of zero tolerance policy on drugs, the policy advocates aim at ridding the society of all illicit drug use. The policy concentrates first in eliminating the minor group in the drug industry who are the users and then proceeding to the transporters followed by the suppliers. The policy is also used in learning institutions where. The policy is adopted as it aims at putting to an end of any gang activities, drug use, and violence in the institutions.
Evidence-based practice a concept that is mainly used in the department of criminology simply means applying methods that have proven to be working over some years. The practice is commonly known as what works movement that includes various assessment techniques in identifying criminal activities in society. Single study view method, one of the techniques in the movement encompasses a single assessment. The technique is of high quality in terms of methodology. This type of appraisal process is regarded as self-explanatory but when compared with other methods it is low in terms of reliability. Its major drawback is that the method that it overgeneralizes issues as it is a single study research. Narrative review method another technique in the movement and is involved in crime investigations is often comprehensive is assessment and summarizes conclusions draw from various researchers. The only limitation of the technique is that the research is regarded as bias. Additionally, there is also the systematic review and the vote count techniques also used in the criminal justice. The evidence-based techniques act in opposition of the zero tolerance policing as the techniques require time to gather information before arresting any suspected individual either on a major or a minor crime.
Zero tolerance policing can be defined in different ways but have the same meaning and implications in the society. The most recognized description states that the policy involves strict, not –discriminatory enforcement of laws in regardless of the circumstance, position or the level of crime. The policy aims at eliminating the minor crimes that can act as the background for the growth of serious criminal activities. Supporters of the policy claim that it reduces both the major and the minor crimes hence doing away with insecurity and criminal activities in society. Although the policy has its drawbacks in the society as it increase the workload of judges as they have to deal even with the minor crimes, police resources, and prison facilities. The policy also affects the level of trust for the community and the people in charge of the law enforcement, the end of the policy justifies its existence and its importance in the fight against criminal activities as it helps in reduction of the quality of life crimes, homicide activities, as well as violent criminal acts. The policy helps in bringing up a society that is upright, peaceful and secure and hence it is highly recommendable to use the zero tolerance policing.
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