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Zero-Tolerance Policing Proposal




According to the critics, the zero-tolerance policing style will be unsuccessful for the reason that its application obliterates a number of significant fundamentals for a thriving community policing such as police responsibility, honesty, and community support (Pickering, 2004). Opponents of this policing style believe that such a strategy ignores inquiry on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, it may lead to unfairly cruel penalties for offenses that may not merit such punishments in real life. Another problem associated with this type of policing is that it offers law enforcers with diminutive judgment in dealing with criminals. Therefore, zero-tolerance policing might forbid the law enforcers from making the penalty appropriate for the misdeed.

Why is this issue so important?

Zero tolerance policing is worth studying because the issue affects all citizens. By studying it, it can be revealed whether the policing style is appropriate in ending the current escalating crimes in our society. Equally, through the study, it will be known whether the policing style infringes on citizens’ rights protected in the US constitution. Based on the above illustrations, it is apparent that all citizens should care about Zero policing. The findings obtained from this study may be used in improving the efficiency of zero tolerance policing or in deciding whether to abolish the policing style.

Independent and dependent variables

During the research process, the independent variables are the punishments set out by zero-tolerance policing. The dependent variables will be the crimes and offenses being affected by the penalties stipulated.

Research questions

  1. What is the effectiveness of zero-tolerance policing in comparison to other policing styles?
  2. What are the major issues associated with zero tolerance community policing?

Research and null hypotheses

Just like any other research process, this research contains research and null hypotheses. Research hypothesis presumes that a relation between the punishment resulting from implementing community policing and crimes targeted by the punishments exists. The research’s null hypotheses state that there is no relationship between the penalties stipulated through community policing and the rate of crimes targeted by the penalties.

Literature Review

A number of literature reviews have been documented on zero-tolerance policing. Five literature reviews were utilized in the research. Their reliability had to be checked to ensure that they were scholarly. Evaluating the reliability of these sources involved a number of processes, and one of them was to look at whether the article or source is peer-reviewed or not.

One of the researches done on zero-tolerance policing investigates the outstanding decrease in murder rates in New York City from the year 1991 to the year 1997 (Bowling, 1999). The author does not attribute this success to the implementation of the zero-tolerance policing style. In the study, Bowling notes that evidence that transformed the policing model was incidental. Between the years 1990 and 1991, the rate of homicide in New York was very high (Bowling, 1999).

However, the rates began to reduce when thorough policing changes were implemented. Bowling attributes the rise in murder cases in the city between the years 1985 and 1991 to the increase in trade in cocaine. From the 1990s, radical police reforms reduced the illegal cocaine trade within the city (Bowling, 1999).

He believes that the reduction in crime rates and murder rates during the late 20th century was because of changes in policing styles. He does not state the specific policing style that is attributed to this success (Bowling, 1999). Instead, he refutes claims attributing the success to zero-tolerance policing. He argues that the New York story has been abridged and over-sold. He believes that zero tolerance is unsuitable for the radical police reforms that transformed the town (Bowling, 1999).

Another literature done on zero-tolerance policing refutes Bowling’s concepts (Greene, 1999). Greene argues that zero-tolerance policing in New York City is behind the decrease in its crime rates. He believes that Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s reforms have won the war against crime in most of the American cities (Greene, 1999). Greene noted that the number of complaints launched against the policing style has increased over the years (Greene, 1999).

The citizens and the opponents of zero tolerance policing argue that the style infringes the Law Enforcement Code of Conduct. The International Association of Chiefs of Police signed the law into law in the year 1979 (Greene, 1999). As such, the law asserts that the basic roles of a law enforcer are attending to the community, protecting lives and possessions, safeguarding the blameless, maintain peace, and guaranteeing liberty rights and fairness.

The above code necessitates that law enforcers behave in a polite and just manner. Through this, they should protect and treat public members with admiration by never using unnecessary power (Greene, 1999). According to the citizens, the zero-tolerance policing style will ultimately be unsuccessful for the reason that its application obliterates a number of significant fundamentals for a thriving community policing such as police responsibility, honesty, and community support (Greene, 1999).

An evaluation of felony rates, arrest figures, and citizens’ grievances in New York with those in San Diego indicates that zero-tolerance policing is an effective way of controlling crime. The study does not rule out the few negative impacts of the policing style (Greene, 1999). Notably, in San Diego, a thorough community-policing plan has been put in place.

They are researching the Criminal Justice Series, like the other literature, analyses the effect of zero-tolerance policing in the US (Millings, 2009). The author tries to illustrate the importance of implementing a zero policing style in our societies (Millings, 2009). He notes that the style seems to possess statistically important prevention effects on the figures of documented assassinations, rapes, and thefts. Other than overemphasizing how zero policing was created, the author reveals the basic principles behind the revolution of the policing style that has changed society (Millings, 2009).

The author points out that the revolution was made possible by increasing the number of law enforcers on the streets, addressing the disorders and minor offenses, and increasing surveillance over hot spots. He asserts that within two years of the implementation of the above practices in New York City, the rate of crime decreased (Millings, 2009). Similarly, the changes enhanced the law enforcers’ morale. Despite its benefits, Millings believes that there should be caution when implementing the policing style to reduce their negative effects (Millings, 2009).

In the article Community Policing or Zero Tolerance, Lum examines how countries have democratized their police departments through Zero tolerance policing (Lum, 2009). He asserts that from the 1970s, over 59 countries have undergone key political changes from totalitarianism towards egalitarianism and more tolerant modes of authority. He highlights the many transformations that have taken place in the law enforcement agencies because of the new policing style. Lum notes that this period has offered prospects for scholars to examine how key transformations in the political setting influence a nation’s policing style (Lum, 2009).

Through this, he analyses the connection between democratizing law enforcers’ approaches, choices, and attributes. His findings illustrate the outcomes of a pilot study of 300 law enforcers from 22 transitioning countries inquiring about their likings to two dissimilar approaches of crime deterrence, community-focused law enforcement programs, and zero-tolerance policies (Lum, 2009). The outcomes illustrate that the law enforcers from the more democratic nations have a tendency to have robust relative likings to community-focused policing over zero-tolerance policing (Lum, 2009).

In his article, Grabosky analyses the history of zero-tolerance policing. He analyses how the policing style was developed in the US (Grabosky, 1999). He believes that zero-tolerance policing in New York City is behind the decrease in its crime rates. Similarly, he focuses on the manner in which a zero-tolerance policing system is being done now and how different factors have come into interplay to enhance community unity in America.

He found out that the impacts of this policing style in different countries differed. For instance, he notes that the way Australians perceive zero tolerance is not the way the Americans perceive the policing style (Grabosky, 1999). To him, Australians expect all their crime issues to be solved with the implementation of the policing style. He points out that zero policing has a few disadvantages that the public must be willing to embrace.

In this respect, he asserts that cautious monitoring and assessment measures should accompany the style (Grabosky, 1999). Through this, he believes that its negative effects do not outshine the policing style’s implementation, time, and place. He also insists that zero-tolerance initiatives should be assessed in terms of their long-standing and temporary effects on individuals arrested for offenses and in society (Grabosky, 1999).

Research Methodology

Explanation of independent and dependent variables

As indicated above, this research’s independent variables are the punishments set out by zero-tolerance policing. The dependent variables are the crimes and offenses being affected by the penalties stipulated. To achieve our objectives, appropriate instrumentation tools will be selected to measure the variables. Punishment is defined as the authoritative obligation of something unwanted upon a person or a crowd in reaction to deeds that the law considers intolerable or an infringement of some custom. The unwanted burden may include a sentence, fine, or imprisonment.

Equally, the burden may include the taking away of something enjoyable or advantageous to the offender. On the other hand, crime is defined as an illegal act punished by a state. In modern criminal justice, the terminology does not have any straightforward and collectively conventional classification. However, legal definitions have been provided for specific uses. The most accepted definition is that crime is a grouping formed by law. For example, some acts are crimes because the law considers them under crime categories.

To measure the effects of punishments or penalties, a questionnaire will be adopted to determine how people react or feel about them. Equally, the effects of penalties can be found by looking at the rate of crime from the time the punishments were stipulated. In the questionnaire, the citizens and the offenders will be asked to detail their penalty perspectives. On the other part of the questionnaire, several questions measured on a five-point Linker scale will be included. Linker scale is a variable measuring tool with strongly agree, agree, undecided, disagree, and strongly disagree with options. The scale is very effective because it will indicate the extent to which the public perceives the penalties put in place.

To measure the rate of crime, the researchers would collect data from the police stations. The data will indicate the current and past crime statistics in the community. The scale of measurement will be an ordinal scale. Reviewing crime records of community-based zero-tolerance policies put in place over the time the policies have been in place is an effective and secure method of evaluating crime rates.

Research design

A research design is a methodical plan to investigate a research problem. In class, five types of research design were analyzed. They are co-relational, field (survey), experimental, qualitative, and meta-analysis. For this type of research, field or survey research design is going to be utilized. As such, field research encompasses compilations of data outside of a lab, stores, or formal set up. The means and processes used in the fieldwork differ across researches.

For research, this information will be obtained through face-to-face interviewing and questionnaires. The questions will be directed at individuals in natural environments. Usually, fieldwork entails a variety of distinct or inconsistent methods. The methods may include casual meetings, direct inspection, and group discussions. Even though the process usually is usually categorized as qualitative research, it should be noted that at times the method might comprise of quantitative dimensions.

Data collection methods

For this study, the data will be collected through field research. The method entails acquiring public data from secure and reliable criminal justice institutions, face-to-face interviews, and questionnaires. Criminal justice institutions will provide the researchers with crucial information such as the present and the past crime reports. The sources are very efficient since they are bias-free. The face-to-face interview will require a participant to question the employees in person to collect their personal views. During the interview, the contributors will be asked to detail their penalty perspectives. The questions used during the interviews are open-ended. Equally, questionnaires will be used to collect private information from the participants.

Sampling methods

The research will entail two units of analysis. The units are the individuals and the justice or correctional facilities. The population targeted by the research comprises of all the US citizens, law enforcers, offenders, and criminal justice institutions. The research will comprise of 100 individuals from New York City. The individuals will comprise members of the public, the offenders, and the law enforcers. On the other hand, the sampling frame will comprise the list of all the individuals sampled. The individuals would be randomly selected. The scale of measurement will be an ordinal scale. The sampling criterion strengthens the study as it enables the researcher to reach the targeted participants.


Bowling, B. (1999). The rise and fall of New York murder: Zero tolerance or crack’s decline?. British Journal Of Criminology, 39(4), 531-554.

Grabosky, P. N. (1999). Zero Tolerance Policing. Trends & Issues In Crime & Criminal Justice. Web.

Greene, J. A. (1999). Zero Tolerance: A Case Study of Police Policies and Practices in New York City. Crime & Delinquency Journal, 45(2), 171.

Lum, C. (2009). Community Policing or Zero Tolerance?. British Journal Of Criminology, 49 (6), 788-809.

Millings, M. (2009). Researching Criminal Justice Series: Zero Tolerance Policing. Probation Journal, 56(1), 78-79.

Pickering, S. (2004). Border Terror: Policing, Forced Migration And Terrorism. Global Change, Peace & Security Journal, 16(3), 211-226.

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