A majority of New Yorkers still support the New York Police Department's efforts to prevent major crimes by targeting lower-level offenses even as general support of the department hit a new low, a new poll revealed.
Sixty percent of those polled in by Quinnipiac University said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bill Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.
Support for the proactive policing that targets quality of life offenses is broad: 61 percent of white, 56 percent of black and 64 percent of Hispanic New Yorkers polled all support the basic principles behind the theory.
"Does it improve the quality of life in your neighborhood when police arrest someone for a low-level offense, or does it increase neighborhood tensions? New Yorkers decide for quality of life," Quinnipiac University Poll Assistant Director Maurice Carroll said in a statement.
Bratton said he was gratified but not surprised by support of the NYPD's initiatives and credited "CompStat accountability policing " for the city's turnaround in crime since over the last 20 years.
"The challenge remains to do it in a way that is both lawful and respectful and as New York City Police Commissioner that is a goal the Mayor, myself, and the 52,000 members of the NYPD are committed to achieving throughout the city's many diverse neighborhoods," the commissioner said in a statement.
And while respondents across demographics had a relatively positive opinion of the police in their immediate neighborhoods, their overall opinion of the NYPD is slightly more grim.
According to the poll, 50 percent of New Yorkers polled approve of the department's job, a dip from last month's 59 percent and the lowest rating in 14 years. In fact, the poll measured a consistent decline in approval since May.
On Tuesday, Quinnipiac also found a significant dip in approval of Bratton's job: 48 percent in late August compared to 57 percent in June. Disapproval of his job ballooned to 35 percent from 19.
In that time, the NYPD has been under intense scrutiny after Staten Island man Eric Garner died while under police custody for a quality-of-life violation after officers said he was selling loose cigarettes on a street corner.
Sixty eight percent of respondents said they believed the was no excuse for how police acted in his arrest, during which an officer was caught on eyewitness video wrapping his arm around Garner's neck in an apparent chokehold, while 24 percent said the arrest was understandable.
Likewise, 64 percent of those asked said the arresting officer Daniel Pantaleo should face criminal charges for Garner's death, compared to 19 percent who disapprove.
The poll surveyed 1,021 registered New York City voters between August 20 and 25 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter@chestersoria