City Attorneys Cross Into Criminal 'Quality-of-Life' Cases
Professor Robert Weisberg, director of the Criminal Justice Center, is quoted in Law.com in a story about the adoption of the "community policing" approach in Oakland in an effort to reduce quality-of-life crimes.
The "broken windows" theory, which proposes that relatively low-level community disorder breeds serious crime if left untreated, has taken hold in Oakland law enforcement, and City Attorney John Russo's three-lawyer special prosecution team, now in its sixth month of operation, represents one arm of the new approach the city's taken in the last few years.
Robert Weisberg, the director of Stanford Law School's Criminal Justice Center, said that while many attributed a steep drop in New York City's crime rate in the 1990s to the adoption of so-called "community policing" and the prosecution of quality-of-life crimes, some academic studies have said the decline was simply the result of more police on the streets.
Similarly, the Oakland plan "means you have more DAs, in effect," he said. "The increase in the number of quasi-prosecutors may only mimic that effect [of more police] if it creates some sort of more visible law enforcement presence or sends out the message that you will be caught."