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CHICAGO -- Zero-tolerance policing tactics common in New York, Boston and Los Angeles start with the idea that prosecuting minor offenses like jumping subway turnstiles will deter more serious crimes. This so-called "broken windows" theory dates to the 1980s when crime nationwide hit epidemic levels. Whether the strategy works, though, is still a subject of debate among experts.
Cities like Los Angeles, led by police chief William Bratton who brought the tactics to New York in the 1990s, still embrace the policy today. As localities increasingly deploy local officers to police threats to national security, the debate is …