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Chapter Summary

Frug, Gerald E. 1999. City Making: Building Communities without Building Walls. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Chapter 10)

Continuing his trend of examining the nature of public services, Frug discusses crime response and police services in Chapter 10. Like the quality of the school district, security (real or perceived) is a major factor in residential neighborhood choice. There is a difference between these two factors, however. Whereas people seek areas with high quality schools, they do not necessarily seek places with high quality crime prevention; rather, they seek to isolate themselves away from crime.

The cost of isolation is borne by governments through the provision of roads and other services that allow for suburban development patterns and by suburban individuals - through higher housing prices and longer commutes. Yet, those who cannot escape high-crime areas face the greatest cost. Even in relatively safe areas, the fear of crime is exacerbated by sensationalist news reports and television depictions. Our author states that the underlying problem, the fear of otherness, both fuels and is predicated upon the fear of crime. This cycle is critically damaging to the fabric of society.

Frug suggests that the traditional method of crime prevention must be reexamined. The current get tough attitude focuses on building and filling prisons to further separate us from them, thus enhancing the feeling of otherness. Perhaps even more damaging to Frugs ideals of community, police patrols offer a sense of security to wealthy suburbs while this same presence in poor, minority neighborhoods creates an unhealthy antagonistic relationship.

Frug suggests a shift both in the way we construct our environment and in the way we deliver police services. In lieu of escapism and avoidance, prevention should replace isolation as the predominant strategy for crime protection. Efforts to prevent crime must occur at the regional level because localized efforts serve only to shift crime from one neighborhood to another. In keeping with the rest of the books theme of community building, Frug suggests that a better method of crime prevention would involve community policing that helps to diminish the fear of otherness. In a community policing program, police are not an outside force designed to impose order on a neighborhood. They are a group that works with the community to identify and solve problems. For this proposal to work, however, there needs to be a societal shift away from the fear of otherness and a widespread development of the aforementioned ego strength of citizens.