Thursday, September 02, 2004

The Not-So-Mean Streets of Manhattan

A fascinating and chastening op-ed piece in this morning's Daily Telegraph as Boris Johnson reflects on the legacy of Rudi Giuliani's zero tolerance policing measures during Giuliani's tenure as Mayor of New York.

Giuliani's insight was simple and masterful. If someone behaves like a criminal, in performing a criminal act, that someone is, ipso facto, a criminal. As such, not only are the police well within their rights to haul that someone away and chuck him or her in the slammer, it's the police's duty to do so. If he or she reoffends, slammer. If they still haven't learned, slammer. If all his or hers brothers and sisters are criminal, slammer. Slammer gets full up? Build a second slammer. Pretty soon you have safe streets, because people have either learned that it does not pay to misbehave, or the entire urban population is incarcerated. Whatever happens, you will no longer experience getting hassled by junkies walking down your own High Street, as happens on Dublin's O'Connell St, for instance. Maybe we ought to give it a crack over here? If we can ban smoking in pubs, you'd think we'd be able to take steps against junkies shooting up heroin in public streets or on the top decks of Dublin Bus.