Tag Archives: freddie gray

The Ferguson Effect: Fact or Fiction?

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”- https://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.

To follow me and or purchase my book please go to- https://billcweiss.com

Do Public Figures Prematurely Shape Public Opinion?

Do initial public comments by public figures prematurely shape public opinion, specifically incidents involving the deadly use-of-force by law enforcement? The recent and still ongoing trials of six police officers indicted in the in-custody death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland, is a great case in point.

On June 23, 2016, a Baltimore judge overseeing the trials acquitted Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., who was driving the transport van in which Gray allegedly sustained fatal injuries to his spinal cord. Gray died one week after being arrested on April 19, 2015. Goodson became the second officer in the case to be cleared. Officer Edward Nero was previously found not guilty of reckless endangerment and assault during a second trial. This was on the heels of the first trial ending in a hung jury.


The judge indicated there was not enough evidence to prove that Officer Goodson provided a “rough ride” for Gray who was not seat belted in while handcuffed inside the van. Witnesses testified that Gray began screaming and kicking so violently that he shook the van prior to being transported.

These acquittals throw the rest of the cases into question since the remaining officers are charged with similar but lesser accusations. Demonstrations have occurred outside the courthouse as many expressed frustration at the not-guilty verdicts. Others are calling for the remaining officers to have all charges dropped.

Ironically, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby drew widespread praise and condemnation after charging the six officers in May 2015, with murder and manslaughter charges within weeks of Gray’s death. Civil rights activists praised the prosecutor for swift and comprehensive action. This action was after demonstrations had occurred in Baltimore against police brutality, which were violent at times, and included rioting, looting, and arson after Gray’s funeral.

This is one of several recent incidents, including the shooting death of 18-year old Michael Brown in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, where activists cheered the quick action of state officials. As you may recall, that incident in Ferguson resulted in violent protests that included vandalism and looting for more than a week and ended the career of Officer Darren Wilson, even after he was cleared of civil rights violations and credible witnesses and forensic evidence corroborated his account. Now in this particular case involving Gray, some activists and legal experts are suggesting that Mosby acted too quickly and did not leave enough time for a thorough investigation.

Also, at the time of this writing at least two reports, which have not been confirmed to my knowledge, have surfaced indicating that Mosby had made some incriminating public statements regarding her true intentions for filing charges so quickly against the six officers and revealing some personal prejudices. She is also being accused of a rush to judgment, making false statements, withholding evidence from the defense that was exculpatory, and is possibly the subject of disbarment charges filed against her.

In an earlier article I addressed the subject of accountability by law enforcement and the public, including public figures, leaders, activists, and celebrities. I made the following general statement in the article, which was titled, “What’s Wrong with this Picture?”

Initial public comments call in to question and assume the officer did something wrong, but the final results of the investigations, even when there are grand jury reviews and a coroner’s report, usually conclude in a finding to the contrary. This displeases many who can’t accept the facts of what actually occurred. Many people are outraged and want to hear the officer was wrong, since they have been told from the beginning to believe he or she was wrong.  Much of this comes from our leaders, activists, and politicians when they are interviewed in the media.” To see this entire article please go to my blog/recent posts on my website-https://billcweiss.com.

Public figures who knowingly speak without the facts, either due to public pressure, or who try to capitalize on a situation for their own interest, create an environment of false expectations and anger. This develops into situation where the public, who was made initially to believe something otherwise, can’t handle the truth when the final investigations conclude differently. This is extremely dangerous.

Why not hold these public figures accountable? #freddiegray, #baltimoremaryland, #lawenforcement, #publicaccountability, #policecommunityrelations, #deadlyuseofforce


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.

To follow me and or purchase my book, “Never Again”, please go to my website- https://billcweiss.com.