This reluctance to act is affecting police departments across the country, as virtually every tool in an officer’s tool chest — from traffic stops to public-order maintenance — is villified as racist. In Baltimore, following anti-cop riots and the indictment of six officers for the death of drug dealer Freddie Gray, arrests dropped 60 percent in May compared with arrests the previous year. In New York City, criminal summonses, a powerful gauge of proactive enforcement, were down 24 percent through July, compared with the same period the previous year; total arrests were down 16.5 percent. Arrests in Los Angeles are down 8 percent city-wide, and even further in some of the highest-crime areas. In the LAPD’s Central Division, home to the chaotic, squalid Skid Row, arrests are down 13 percent, while violent crime is up 57 percent. Some top brass are trying to counter what I and others have dubbed the “Ferguson effect.” “We ask our officers to stay engaged,” says LAPD assistant chief Michel Moore. Unfortunately, when officers do stay engaged, they often confront hostile, unruly crowds and resistance from suspects.
If the Black Lives Matter movement were correct that law enforcement is a scourge on the black community, this unraveling of proactive policing should be an enormous benefit to black well-being. Instead, the country is seeing the biggest violent-crime spike in 20 years, and the primary victims are, as usual, blacks. In 35 big U.S. cities, homicides are up 19 percent this year on average, according to a survey done by the Major City Chiefs Association. Milwaukee has seen a 118 percent rise in homicides; Minneapolis and St Louis, close to 50 percent; and Baltimore, 60 percent. In Dallas, homicides are up 39 percent; in Houston, 36 percent through mid-July. In Chicago, homicides were up 21 percent as of August 2; in New York, 10 percent. Sixty-two percent of surveyed cities reported increases in non-fatal shootings as well. In Cincinnati, shootings have reached a ten-year-high. As of August 8, the number of shooting victims in Los Angeles was up by 25 percent; violent crime in L.A. has risen by 20 percent. The overwhelming majority of shooting and homicide victims have been black, as are their assailants. It turns out that when the police back off, it is residents of poor inner-city neighborhoods who pay, too often with their lives.