There have been numerous recent reports regarding a significant increase in crime, especially violent crime, in major cities throughout America. For anyone who has been following the debate around police-community relations, specifically the war on police and the “Ferguson effect”, this should not be much of a surprise. Is this fact or fiction?
The Ferguson Effect is basically the idea that increased scrutiny of police has led to an increased crime or murder rate in major U.S. cities. It is regarded as the theory or thought that protests against police shootings and use of force incidents have made police afraid of doing their job and what they need to do to keep communities safe, which has led to a rise in violent and other crime. The belief is that officers are backing off proactive policing and criminals are emboldened, while activists and politicians denounce pedestrian stops and public safety enforcement as racist.
The demand for more transparency and accountability in law enforcement and the constant challenge to officers’ credibility while performing their daily functions, especially concerning incidents involving the use of force, continues to bring this topic to the forefront.
As I discussed in an earlier blog, when public figures make initial comments due to public and political pressure, without having all of the facts, they create unreasonable and unfounded expectations by the public. When the completed investigation and evidence concludes otherwise, many are in disbelief, and protests and disturbances occur. Many can’t handle the truth and react in anger. This has occurred numerous times, most recently in the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, and the Freddie Gray incident in Baltimore, Maryland. To read the article “Do Public Figures Prematurely Shape Public Opinion”, please click on my website and see “Recent Posts” or “Blog”- http://www.billcweiss.com
I believe that police across the nation are still actively doing their jobs, but they may be doing it in a different manner, with different techniques, and with less aggressiveness. These methods may be less effective in the long run, which may be affecting the crime rate increase that has been recently reported. Crime may be going up in different parts of the country for different reasons, but there is definitely a link to some of this increase to the theory of the Ferguson Effect. To what extent is still being debated by many experts. This crime increase is also connected to how the public interacts with law enforcement.
Cops are not perfect. When an officer or department is out of line and violates the law they need to be held accountable and criticized. To the contrary, when we criticize an officer for defending himself against someone who is trying to take his duty weapon from him and he is attempting to stay alive during the attack, then we have a major problem as a society.
Let us not forget the importance of holding these individuals accountable, especially those who fail to follow lawful orders, and exhibit unpredictable and violent behavior. This should also include our leadership and public figures, and those in positions of power, influence, and authority, to say and do the right things.
Just as the public needs law enforcement, the police need the support and trust of the public. It’s a two-way street. One way to improve in this area is to decrease the number of public figures who selfishly speak with no knowledge, no experience, limited information and facts, and do nothing but create hysteria and unreasonable expectations. Should we be holding these individuals accountable too? #fergusoneffect, #policecommunityrelations, #fergusonmissouri, #baltimoremaryland, #michaelbrown, #freddiegray
As a retired Lieutenant and 32-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Bill Weiss worked various patrol, custody, administrative, investigative, and special assignments. He has been an Incident Commander for several major tactical incidents. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California, with a Master’s degree in Public Administration.
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