Recently in Policing Category

Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz is not someone we agree with often, but his comments on Megyn Kelly's show last night are notable.  The video is here.  The transcript is here and copied, with edits, after the break.

[Editors Note:  Unknown to either of us, Bill and I were posting on the same subject at the same time.  That's okay.  I will leave them both up.  There is overlap, but also some differences in the posts.]
I wrote earlier today about the surge in violent crime across America and its roots in the "Ferguson effect," i.e., the intimidation of proactive policing.  Paul Mirengoff follows up with observations from this morning's American Enterprise Institute forum 

The importance of proactive policing, which is what the Ferguson effect deters, is sufficiently obvious that even liberals understand it. Today at an AEI conference on sentencing reform, Steven Teles, a leading proponent of softer sentencing, expressed his concern that the sentencing reform movement, which has carried the day in some states, will be set back if the crime rate continues to rise and/or if those released pursuant to the reforms commit horrific crimes.

Teles therefore stressed the importance of coupling softer (he calls it "smarter") sentencing with measures to prevent crime, including proactive policing. In other words, sentencing reform, an important agenda item for the left (and for some conservatives), might not be sustainable without the kind of policing the left castigates -- and thereby deters.

But the same mindless accusations of racism that the softer sentencing movement relies on also undergird the virulent attacks on the police that produce the Ferguson effect. Thus, we're quite unlikely to get both a soft sentencing regime and policing that will help society cope with the consequences of having vastly more criminals on the street.


Just so.  The cultural rot and grievance narratives that have produced the push for dumbed down sentencing are certain also to produce continued shrunken policing. Our budding crime wave will stop only when the ideas that have spawned it are exposed and defeated.   

A:  More violent crime, which is surging across the United States.

As Heather McDonald writes in the WSJ:

[T]he evidence is not looking good for those who dismiss the Ferguson effect, from the president on down. That group once included Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, who was an early and influential critic. Mr. Rosenfeld has changed his mind after taking a closer look at the worsening crime statistics. "The only explanation that gets the timing right is a version of the Ferguson effect," he told the Guardian recently. "These aren't flukes or blips, this is a real increase." 

Oooooops.

A study of gun violence in Baltimore by crime analyst Jeff Asher showed an inverse correlation with proactive drug arrests: When Baltimore cops virtually stopped making drug arrests last year after the rioting that followed the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, shootings soared. In Chicago, where pedestrian stops have fallen nearly 90%, homicides this year are up 60% compared with the same period last year. Compared with the first four and half months of 2014, homicides in Chicago are up 95%, according to the police department. Even the liberal website Vox has grudgingly concluded that "the Ferguson effect theory is narrowly correct, at least in some cities."

Double oooooops.  And it gets worse.


The  full text transcript of Judge Barry Williams's ruling in the trial of Baltimore police officer Edward Nero is available here.

Black Lives Matter, the New Fascism

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The cleansing of conservative ideas from academia reached new lows this last week at Dartmouth, where campus Republicans, having sought and secured permission, used a college bulletin board to put up their display, "Blue Lives Matter."  It was designed to honor, during National Police Week (May 15-21) the sacrifices of police officers.

This was too much for Black Lives Matter hooligans, who tore it down.  In its place, about three dozen sheets of paper were pasted up, all carrying the message: "YOU CANNOT CO-OPT THE MOVEMENT AGAINST STATE VIOLENCE TO MEMORIALIZE THE PERPETRATORS." At the bottom, each sheet also had the hashtag "#blacklivesmatter."

The Dartmouth Review has the story, complete with timeline.

To my knowledge, Dartmouth administrators have taken no action against the BLM bullies, and have instead warned the College Republicans not to attempt to reconstruct their display on the bulletin board  --  the one they spent weeks reserving.

I won't go into the fact that the police have done vastly more to save black lives than all the Dartmouth strongarms put together.  I will simply note that, if we want a glimpse at how fascism gets started, BLM is doing us a favor.
Eric Lichtblau reports for the NYT:

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.
How much truth can an official in the truth-intolerant Obama Administration speak before he gets fired?  We may be close to finding out.

Back to Bedlam

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Heather MacDonald has this article in the City Journal:

Will the anti-cop Left please figure out what it wants? For more than a decade, activists have demanded the end of proactive policing, claiming that it was racist. Pedestrian stops--otherwise known as stop, question, and frisk--were attacked as a bigoted oppression of minority communities. In March 2015, for example, the ACLU of Illinois accused the Chicago Police Department of "targeting" minorities because stops are "disproportionately concentrated in the black community."
And what happens when they win that battle?

And the Left is once again denouncing the police--this time for not doing enough policing. [Black Lives Matter activist Shaun] King now accuses police in Chicago of not "doing their job," as a result of which "people are dying." Stops in Chicago are down nearly 90 percent this year through the end of March, compared with the same period in 2015; shootings were up 78 percent and homicides up 62 percent through April 10.

Evidence Mounts on Crime Spikes

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Many people   -- including law enforcement officials, bloggers here, and Heather MacDonald at the Manhattan Institute -- have been raising alarms that increasing numbers of innocent people are being needlessly victimized due to ill-considered policy changes (e.g., California's "realignment" and Prop. 47) and the "Ferguson Effect" of police holding back as they come under hyper-scrutiny.  Soft-on-crime apologists have responded that the data are too tentative and too anecdotal to draw such conclusions.  That answer did have some validity initially, but it wears increasingly thin as data accumulate.

In Chicago, the local variant of the Ferguson Effect might be called the McDonald Effect.  The number crunchers at FiveThirtyEight (who definitely do not lean conservative) have concluded that the numbers have reached the threshold that they can't be brushed off like that any more.  Rob Arthur and Jeff Asher have this post.

Bill Clinton Gets It on Black Lives Matter

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Bill Clinton was the last President in this country widely viewed as successful.  I have my doubts, stemming largely from his failure to counteract the growth of the terrorist threat, but I understand the reasons for his popularity. For one thing, crime started its long, astonishing descent under some of the sentencing laws he supported and signed (and his wife now denounces).

Today, Mr. Clinton told his hecklers in the BLM movement what they need to hear but are certain to ignore:  "You are defending the people who killed the lives you say matter."  He could have added that BLM is attacking the best friends preserving black lives ever had  --  more police, more aggressive policing, and more incarceration of the thugs and drug pushers who prey disproportionately on blacks.

The Weekly Standard has the story and the tape of Mr. Clinton's remarks.  Heather MacDonald's take on them is here.
Ilya Somin has this post with the above title at the Volokh Conspiracy on the WaPo site.

H.R. 4760, the Blue Lives Matter Act of 2016," is a sweeping bill to make assaults on police officers a federal offense, adding to the list of federal "hate crimes."

Of course it is true that blue lives matter.  It is also true that the police are under attack and need the support of the law-abiding people of this country.  It is also true that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Crimes against persons are generally matters of state law.  At times it has been necessary to stretch the boundaries of federal jurisdiction when states were failing in their constitutional obligation to provide equal protection of the laws, such as the murders of civil rights workers over half a century ago. 

Those dark times are long behind us.  State governments are perfectly capable of prosecuting crimes against police officers.  Federalizing the issue will not help.

The lines between state and federal jurisdiction are there for good reasons.  We should be restoring and fortifying them, not punching new holes in them.

Divisiveness, Hypocrisy and the Left

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Heather Mac Donald has an insightful piece in the National Review in which she discusses the most recent liberal hypocrisy on the concept of divisiveness.  She notes that commentators in mainstream media "have been shedding crocodile tears" over Donald Trump's "divisive rhetoric" and "failure to unify the country," which is quite confounding coming from "the same worthies who have incessantly glorified the Black Lives Matter movement over the last year and a half."  The article is titled, "Don't Blame Trump for Divisiveness When the Left Says Stuff Like This."  Some of that stuff:

  • A Black Lives Matter march last October featuring "F**k the Police," "Murderer Cops" and "Stop Police Terror" chants
  • A president who "routinely claims that police and the criminal-justice system treats blacks differently than whites" even in the absence of empirical data
  • A Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, who says it's a "reality" that cops see black lives as "cheap"
  • Another Democratic presidential contender, Bernie Sanders, who claims the killing of unarmed black people by police officers has been going on "decade after decade after decade"
  • Academic rhetoric and identity politics, which "immerses students in the counterfactual propaganda that the world is divided between people enjoying white-male-heteronormative privilege and everyone else"


Mac Donald concludes:

To the mainstream media, Black Lives Matter's claims and academic identity politics are not "divisive," they are simple truth. But if you don't accept those truth claims -- and the data refute them -- the vitriolic anti-cop rhetoric of the last year and a half, and its underpinning in academic victimology, easily match the alleged divisiveness of anything that Trump has said.

Politically Incorrect Posting

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Last week, a San Francisco police station was in the hot seat after an op-ed written by Heather Mac Donald, "The Myths of Black Lives Matter," in which she challenged the Black Lives Matter narrative that police officers are racists and pose the greatest threat to young black men today, was posted on a bulletin board in the station.  Soon after, this article published in the San Francisco Examiner questioned whether posting Mac Donald's piece in the police station was in violation of department and city rules that ban political activity in public buildings.

Here is Mac Donald's response to the controversy.

Stats Matter

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The Ferguson effect is undoubtedly being downplayed by the left.  Heather Mac Donald has this piece in the City Journal addressing the way researchers have tried to obscure its existence.  The subject of the piece is a recent paper published in the Journal of Criminal Justice and authored by four University of Colorado Boulder researchers and sociologist David Pyrooz, in which they "created a complex econometric model that analyzed monthly rates of change in crime rates in 81 U.S. cities with populations of 200,000 or more."  Some of the their findings:

The researchers found that in the 12 months before Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, Missouri--the event that catalyzed the Black Lives Matter movement--major felony crime, averaged across all 81 cities, was going down. In the 12 months after Brown was shot, that aggregate drop in crime slowed down considerably. But that deceleration of the crime drop was not large enough to be deemed statistically significant, say the criminologists. Therefore, they conclude, "there is no systematic evidence of a Ferguson Effect on aggregate crime rates throughout the large U.S. cities . . . in this study."

Mac Donald clarifies:

[T]he existence of a Ferguson effect does not depend on its operating uniformly across the country in cities with very different demographics. When the researchers disaggregated crime trends by city, they found that the variance among those individual city trends had tripled after Ferguson. That is, before the Brown shooting, individual cities' crime rates tended to move downward together; after Ferguson, their crime rates were all over the map. Some cities had sharp increases in aggregate crime, while others continued their downward trajectory. The variance in homicide trends was even greater--nearly six times as large after Ferguson. And what cities had the largest post-Ferguson homicide surges? Precisely those that the Ferguson effect would predict: cities with high black populations, low white populations, and high preexisting rates of violent crime.
Heather Mac Donald is, as usual, here to set the record straight in a commentary featured by the Marshall Project titled Black and Unarmed: Behind the Numbers.  In it, she examines the Washington Post's data on fatal police shootings compiled over the last year, warning that some people are taking the Post's recently completed 2015 database as "evidence that the police are gunning down unarmed blacks out of implicit bias."  This assumption, based on data that is significantly lacking in facts and detail, doesn't tell the whole story.

Such misleading data is, no doubt, fueling the rage of the Black Lives Matter protest movement by omitting the many critical specifics behind the data that would surely silence its self-created pandemonium.  The WaPo's data fails to "convey highly-charged policing situations" and misinforms its readers by failing to recognize that many of the cases "are more complicated and morally ambiguous than a simple 'unarmed' classification would lead the reader to believe."

The facts speak for themselves:  All cops are not racists.  Fatal shooting incidents involving unarmed black men are very, very rarely the result of racial bias.  If one comes away from this piece continuing to maintain that belief, while persisting to ignore the routine civilian violence claiming black lives on a daily basis across the U.S., then they are not advocating for truth, but rather, a false narrative.

An Avoidable Tragedy

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"Activists," academics, and others in the "I'm-smarter-than-you-are" crowd tell us that when the cops are routinely denounced as thugs, when a big city mayor says that rioters throwing bricks and bottles at them  must be given "space to destroy," and when that same city's state's attorney holds a political rally news conference at which she lifts murder charges against the police like a head on a pole, there will be no effect on crime.

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