That FBI report is making the Ferguson Effect hard to ignore

We’ve already looked at a couple of items from the latest FBI crime report and some of the dark news revealed within. But when you match up some of their numbers with recent historical facts, even more trends become evident. As the Daily Caller reports this week, one disturbing trend can be found by matching up locations recording rising murder rates with the homes of of widespread riots and anti-police protests.

As we discussed when looking at the rising murder and violent crime rates, the increases are not homogeneous across the country. Much of the spike in those figures is being driven by the shockingly higher murder numbers in a dozen or so cities. What some analysts are now doing is matching up those hot spots with the locations of the aforementioned anti-police protests. The result? The Ferguson Effect is almost undoubtedly real.

Some criminal justice experts say there is a causal link between the unrest and the two-year rise in homicides nationwide. Heather MacDonald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has dubbed the phenomenon the “Ferguson Effect,” in reference to a rise in violent crime that followed shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson in 2014.

As McDonald sees it, agitation by groups such as Black Lives Matter, encouraged by slanted media coverage, has led to a retrenchment among big-city police forces. Street cops are so worried about being vilified by city leaders and the press that they are avoiding contact with the criminal element, she says.

“Cops are backing off of proactive policing in high-crime minority neighborhoods, and criminals are becoming emboldened,” MacDonald wrote in a Sept. 25 piece for City Journal. “Having been told incessantly by politicians, the media, and Black Lives Matter activists that they are bigoted for getting out of their cars and questioning someone loitering on a known drug corner at 2 AM, many officers are instead just driving by.”

Looking at the areas with steep increases in murder rates in this light, the dots pretty much connect themselves. It starts with the crime spikes in St. Louis, Baltimore and Chicago. Who is associated with those cities? Michael Brown, Freddie Gray and Laquan McDonald. The first two cities experienced actual riots. While Chicago didn’t get quite that far out of hand, there were weeks of protests and regular disruptions. The next thing they have in common is the local and federal response. Each area, rather than thanking their police for fighting an increasingly dangerous gang violence situation with limited resources, saw municipal leaders chastising the police for being “too aggressive” or using similar language. Then the federal government, under Barack Obama and his two Attorney Generals piled on, demanding long term reviews of the police forces in those cities with mandates to clean up the police departments.

Small wonder that under such circumstances, the cops tended to back off considerably from proactive policing, as Heather McDonald describes it. Tired of being blamed for problems and not wanting to risk a lawsuit or criminal charges for doing their jobs, cops became more cautious about when they would get out of the patrol vehicle at times. And the criminals clearly noticed, becoming more brazen.

The result of such a trend is what we’re seeing in the FBI report. Crime, which had been on the retreat since the crackdown which started in the nineties, is back on the rise. There are some critics, such as Ames Grawert of the Brennan Center for Justice (quoted in the article) who say that you can’t make the correlation because, “It’s really a local problem, not a broad trend. There is no evidence that crime has gone up overall.”

With all due respect to Mr. Grawert, that’s exactly the point being made here. There may have been discussions on this subject taking place nationally, but the actual instances of rioting, anti-cop protests and police “reforms” were very much concentrated in certain urban areas, at least in their most high volume forms. And those are, for the most part, the same areas where these “local problems” are cropping up.

It’s worth noting that there were a couple of exceptions. New York City and Los Angeles both failed to see an increase in violent crime and may have even recorded a slight decrease. Yet both cities had some incidents of lethal police encounters which drew anger and protests. Perhaps we need to be looking to the police departments in those areas to find out what’s working for them and seeing if these other cities can emulate their success.