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Q: How Many People Have Been Murdered Because of the Ferguson Effect?

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A:  I don't know, but a DOJ study confirms that the Ferguson Effect  --  i.e., unhinged, ideological criticism of the police and their resulting increased caution  -- has, indeed, contributed to the rise in murder.

Our News Scan has this item, addressing the causes of the crisis-level 17% murder increase last year:

The [DOJ] study offers two explanations regarding the Ferguson Effect and how it has impacted crime, specifically murder. The first explanation asserts that increased police scrutiny in the wake of highly publicized shootings have caused law enforcement to pull back, allowing for criminals and potential murderers to roam freely, undeterred.  The second emphasizes the distrust and discontent that exists between the police and African American communities, resulting in a lack of cooperation with police investigations.*

There are at least two very important conclusions to be gleaned from this study. First, contrary to the Attorney General's and the White House's false assertions, there are indeed "data" showing the Ferguson Effect and its harmfulness (thank goodness Jim Comey was around to tell the truth).  The previously invisible data were found by DOJ itself, after a conveniently long interval to let the previous mendacious narrative sink in.

Good grief.

Second, the study, while a welcome admission of what anyone connected to reality has known for months, has a serious flaw, to wit, it suggests an alternative explanation where none actually exists. 
The premise of the proffered alternative explanation for 2015's murder surge is that Ferguson and other episodes of police violence against African Americans produced elevated levels of suspicion and distrust in the black community that surfaced last year.  But that premise is false.

The truth is the opposite.  As Gallup found in a poll published on December 21, 2015:

After dipping to 48% in 2014 amid a national firestorm over police treatment of young black men, the rating Americans give the honesty and ethical standards of police has rebounded to 56%. This is more consistent with the 54% to 58% ratings Gallup found between 2010 and 2013.

In other words, as murder steadily increased in 2015, trust in the police also increased, and returned to the level it had been for years.  The idea that the 2015 murder spike was caused by elevated distrust of the police is thus not merely incorrect; it's an inversion of what happened.

Gallup continues:

Four in 10 nonwhites now rate the ethical standards of police as very high or high -- a sharp increase from the 23% who held this view in 2014. A steep drop in nonwhites' ratings of the police in 2014 was the sole cause of the profession's overall ratings dip [in that] year. While nonwhites' attitudes have not rebounded to their pre-2014 levels, the slight increase in whites' positive views of the police this year, from 59% to 64%, coupled with the rise in nonwhites' ratings, pushes the overall percentage back to the "normal" range seen in recent years.

Gallup observes that the "sharp increase" in blacks' confidence in the police may be "tenuous," and I am in no position to disagree, since I don't know.  But whether or not confidence holds up going forward, DOJ's previous idea that blacks' supposed low confidence in cops in 2015, rather than the Ferguson Effect, produced last year's murder surge is flat-out wrong.

It's not loss of trust in the cops.  It's  hyper-criticism of them.  And the result is more murder.

The next step, one would hope, would be for DOJ and other components of the Administration to join with the rest of us in supporting essential police work rather than lining up with the "Pigs in a Blanket" movement.  But then again, I have a number of unfulfilled hopes.



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