"Ferguson Effect" in Full Bloom
From our e-mail, an article by Jack Dunphy:
- We turn our attention now to the city of Chicago, where both Northsiders and Southsiders are reveling to see that their respective baseball teams, the Cubs and the White Sox, are comfortably in first place. Yes, it’s only May, but in Chicago one must revel when one can. And when Chicagoans check their morning newspapers to see how their teams fared the previous evening – the batting averages, the home runs, the strikeouts, and all the rest – there is another set of statistics they consult, one that appears as regularly as the box scores but calls for no celebration: They look to see how many people in Chicago were shot overnight.
And they most often find the answer is quite a few, as reflected in this May 7 story from the Chicago Tribune. “A 58-year-old man was pronounced dead,” the story begins, “after a bullet ripped through a front door of his home and struck him in the head as he was eating dinner. The man was one of five people shot Saturday, police said.” The story was posted to the paper’s website at 9:55 p.m., Central Time, which left more than two hours of prime crime time for Saturday’s total to run even higher. But if the number of shooting victims held at five with only one of them killed, Chicagoans would label the day a modest success. So far this year the city has averaged more than nine people shot and 1.5 homicide victims per day.
- Last year FBI Director James Comey took heavy incoming fire over his remark that a “chill wind” was blowing through law enforcement in the aftermath of Ferguson, Baltimore, and the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement. Yesterday, he doubled down:
The director of the F.B.I. reignited the factious debate over a so-called “Ferguson effect” on Wednesday, saying that he believed less aggressive policing was driving an alarming spike in murders in many cities.
James Comey, the director, said that while he could offer no statistical proof, he believed after speaking with a number of police officials that a “viral video effect” — with officers wary of confronting suspects for fear of ending up on a video — “could well be at the heart” of a spike in violent crime in some cities.
“There’s a perception that police are less likely to do the marginal additional policing that suppresses crime — the getting out of your car at 2 in the morning and saying to a group of guys, ‘Hey, what are you doing here?’” he told reporters.
While Comey may not have offered statistical proof, there’s ample evidence from Chicago — for example — that reduced arrests, stops, and gun seizures correlate with a dramatic increase in murders.
"dramatic increase" might be an understatement.