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FBI Director Says "Viral Video Effect" Deters Proactive Policing

May 13, 2016  | 

FBI Director James Comey 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.

Comey 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.

Comey was wading back into a dispute from last fall that pitted him against some of his bosses at the White House and the Justice Department, the New York Times reports.

He first raised the idea in October that a “chill wind” had deterred aggressive policing. But Obama administration officials distanced themselves from Mr. Comey at the time. They said they had seen no evidence to support the idea of a “Ferguson effect.”

Comments (10)

Displaying 1 - 10 of 10

JoeJoe @ 5/13/2016 7:40 PM

Don't break the law and you have nothing to worry about.

Courage @ 5/14/2016 8:15 AM

JoeJoe- I guess that argument didn't work for Darren Wilson, whose LEGAL and JUSTIFIED use of force, for whom the Ferguson Effect is so aptly named. Contrary to what BLM and other cop-hating groups would have you believe, most cops try to do a legal and ethical job in every incident in which they become involved, and despise the criminals in uniform. Good cops fear the unjust Monday morning scrutiny that vilifies their best intentions, often stemming from the type of 'broken windows' contacts that suppress crime.

OneLeft @ 5/14/2016 8:32 AM

Courage, I believe you are correct. Our department has 44 officers. Before the Ferguson situation, our department would receive 90 or more applications whenever we had a police officer job available. A few months ago, we opened a position, and we had 30 applicants. There are three other larger agencies in my county who all say they now only get about 1/3 of the applicants they used to get before Ferguson. And we are in the South where the communities support their least compared to other places. Hiring of police officers is where the real statistics are that the Feds are saying they "have seen no evidence".

PW @ 5/14/2016 9:06 AM

The FBI director is absolutely correct. I'm from the Chicago, Illinois, area; unfortunately. The politicians and street thugs are one in the same. Police, as a whole, are sick of it. The most prevalent attitude, recently, has been to just show up and take the paper. Let people figure it out on their own, after all, they don't want the police and the law around; they have ZERO support for the police. Well, they can't have their cake and eat it too. Sink or swim folks because you can't have it both ways; the protection you "want" but without allowing police to lawfully do their job.

kevcopAz @ 5/14/2016 9:17 AM

Oh what a surprise that the Obama administration "distanced itself" from the Directors statement since he is a professional, knows of what he speaks and is honest about commenting that way. The Obama administration is one of the main causes of the "Ferguson effect" by the way they trash Law Enforcement, societal norms etc that have kept our society and system working all these years for the Obama "change" in all that is common sense. This administration has done more to harm America and American racial harmony then any other in our history. I can't wait for this administration to be gone, only hope "Ms Obama" (Hillary) doesn't take his place which would just bone Obama in a dress and will further kill what is right about our count try.

Retired NY Boss @ 5/14/2016 10:09 AM

Ya Think!

Nick @ 5/14/2016 1:22 PM

Of course there has been an effect! As mentioned above in fewer police applicants, also ask agency / department staff the stats on the current number of arrests, ped stops, citations and self initiated police work, compared to prior reporting reporting periods and that will tell the story! Sad but true. It is not in a cops nature to back off or back down. Proactive police work is what keeps crime down and order in society.

Tom Ret @ 5/14/2016 3:49 PM

The Obama administration is incapable of admitting they were or are wrong . They have lied on so many occasions what's another lie. People in cities where the morale of the officers is down will ultimately see the correlation.

plato's playdough @ 5/15/2016 8:46 PM

Remember how a phrase can conceal intent.

"Have seen no evidence...." -vs-

"Did not open our eyeballs when the numbers were staring right at us..."

Robert Moody @ 5/18/2016 12:36 PM

What's new. Obuma doesn't listen to any of his staff if their advice doesn't agree with his pre-conceived ideas. "Don't confuse me with facts, my mind is made up.

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