A Colorado-born author, he is remembered for his Broken Windows theory, which revolutionized policing in high-crime areas. He also wrote a leading textbook on American government.
After studying at the University of Redlands in California, he served in the Navy during the Korean War.
His Broken Windows theory posits that people take clues from their environment; therefore, broken windows lead the way to crime by signifying a lack of care about crime.
He grew up in Long Beach, California, where his father, Claude Wilson, worked as a salesman.
He was a close friend of neoconservative thinker Irving Kristol.