Jordan High School graduate and political scientist James Q. Wilson, whose "broken windows" theory on crime-fighting helped trigger a nationwide move toward community policing, died last week at a Boston hospital. He was 80.
A brilliant Harvard and UCLA professor, social commentator and prolific writer, Wilson received the nation’s highest civilian honor from President George Bush in 2003.
"Professor James Q. Wilson may be the most influential political scientist in America since the White House was home to Professor Woodrow Wilson," President Bush said during the award ceremony.
He was honored as the Long Beach Unified School District’s Public Schools Week Distinguished Graduate Award winner in 1977. He credits two of his Jordan High School teachers for helping to launch his stellar career in higher education.
“I had two teachers who touched me deeply,” said Wilson. “Walter Smith taught me mathematics. Other people tried; Walter Smith succeeded. Why did he succeed? Not by force of terror but by force of example. I wanted to please him. I thought he was a fine man. He seemed to know something that was worth knowing. He could explain to me things that I didn’t realize I wanted to know the answer to until he tried to tell me what the problem was.
“Another man, Robert Crossan, who was my speech teacher and English teacher, found me sweeping out a store the summer I was supposed to be going to college and asked me what my plans were. He talked me into going to a college called the University of Redlands. I had no idea what college was. If he hadn’t cared to come to a store on a hot summer afternoon where I was sweeping out the floors, I would probably still be sweeping out the floors.”