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Conversely, a disordered environment, one that is not maintained (broken windows, graffiti, excessive litter), sends the signal that the area is not monitored and that criminal behavior has little risk of detection.The theory assumes that the landscape "communicates" to people.
Individuals thus look for signals within the environment as to the social norms in the setting and the risk of getting caught violating those norms; one of the signals is the area's general appearance.
Under the broken windows theory, an ordered and clean environment, one that is maintained, sends the signal that the area is monitored and that criminal behavior is not tolerated.
Newman says this is a clear sign that the society has accepted this disorder—allowing the unrepaired windows to display vulnerability and lack of defense.
The theory thus makes two major claims: that further petty crime and low-level anti-social behavior is deterred, and that major crime is prevented as a result.
Regardless of how many times the windows are repaired, the community still must invest some of their time to keep it safe.
Residents' negligence of broken window-type decay signifies a lack of concern for the community.The theory emphasizes the built environment, but must also consider human behavior.Under the impression that a broken window left unfixed leads to more serious problems, residents begin to change the way they see their community.Newman proposes that people care for and protect spaces they feel invested in, arguing that an area is eventually safer if the people feel a sense of ownership and responsibility towards the area.Broken windows and vandalism are still prevalent because communities simply do not care about the damage.Repair the broken windows within a short time, say, a day or a week, and the tendency is that vandals are much less likely to break more windows or do further damage.Clean up the sidewalk every day, and the tendency is for litter not to accumulate (or for the rate of littering to be much less).In an attempt to stay safe, a cohesive community starts to fall apart, as individuals start to spend less time in communal space to avoid potential violent attacks by strangers.The slow deterioration of a community as a result of broken windows modifies the way people behave when it comes to their communal space, which, in turn, breaks down community control.Broken windows policing has become associated with controversial police practices such as the use of "stop-and-frisk" by the New York City Police Department. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of refuse from take-out restaurants there or even break into cars.In response, Bratton and Kelling have written that broken windows policing should not be treated as "zero tolerance" or "zealotry", but as a method that requires "careful training, guidelines and supervision" and a positive relationship with communities, thus linking it to community policing. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. The article received a great deal of attention and was very widely cited.