Mad as Hell About Water Buckets—and the Ferguson Effect

One component of the Ferguson Effect is the glorification of anti-police sentiment, anti-police protests that turn violent, and attacks on officers—both verbal and physical. The latest social media videos of attacks on officers serve as proof that this wrongheaded thinking undeniably exists.

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Screen grab of video posted to social media of a large group of young people in the Bronx approaching two female police officers on a sidewalk and dousing them with water.Screen grab of video posted to social media of a large group of young people in the Bronx approaching two female police officers on a sidewalk and dousing them with water.

Earlier this week, we reported on two videos—one captured in Harlem, the other in Brooklyn—surfacing on social media showing brazen young men approaching police officers conducting their patrol duties and dousing them with buckets of water.

The incidents sparked justifiable outrage among rank-and-file officers with the NYPD as well as law enforcement personnel nationwide.

New York Police Benevolent Association Patrick Lynch said in a statement, "Our anti-cop lawmakers have gotten their wish: the NYPD is now frozen. It's not the fault of these police officers. It's the end result of the torrent of bad policies and anti-police rhetoric that has been streaming out of City Hall and Albany for years now."

The statement continued, "We are approaching a point of no return. Disorder controls the streets, and our elected leaders refuse to allow us to take them back. As police officers, we need to draw a line. In situations like this, we need to take action to protect ourselves and the public."

Ed Mullins—president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association—said in a statement that the "liquid in those buckets may have contained water but could at some point contain bleach, gasoline, or some other toxic substance."

The NYPD said in an internal memo that police officers "are not expected to tolerate conduct that may cause risk of injury to themselves and the public, interferes with the performance of their duties, or tampers with or damages their uniform, equipment, or other department property."

The department also made abundantly clear that such conduct constituted a crime and that officers were empowered to make arrests.

Indeed, just two days after the two videos appeared online, we reported on NYPD officers arresting three men in connection with the two attacks.

The three men—identified as Courtney Thompson, Isaiah Scott, and Chad Bowden—now face charges including disorderly conduct, harassment, criminal mischief, and obstructing government administration.

Then on Wednesday, a third video appeared of a large group of young people—one with a pre-teen in tow—approaching two female officers standing on a street corner in the Bronx and showering them with buckets of water.

Anyone in law enforcement—or any civilian police supporter—who watched any of these utterly disturbing videos was understandably outraged.

Ferguson to Manhattan

Former mayor Rudy Giuliani laid the blame for the attacks and the officers' unwillingness to respond with arrests at the feet of Mayor Bill de Blasio and his "anti-police rhetoric" as well as an unwillingness of prosecutors to pursue charges for a wide variety of crimes.

That's certainly part of it, but I believe it goes even deeper and wider than New York's "progressive" mayor and his constant disdain for the men and women who keep his city's streets safe.

I believe that we can correctly assess that the behavior of the assailants—and the lack of immediate response by the officers who came under attack—can be directly attributed to the so-called "Ferguson Effect."

Nationwide, police officers have been withdrawing from proactive policing for years.

Cops fear of retribution by anti-police members of the public or the press, consequently emboldening violent criminals to engage in ever-increasing levels of criminal activity.

In some places, the practice of proactive policing is in danger of becoming lost to history, and in many of those cities crime is increasing.

Police across the country have talked about trepidation to act when action is the only reasonable response. They've spoken about fearing the aftermath of a deadly force encounter more than they do the incident itself.

We've seen officers literally retreat from potentially dangerous subjects.

Remember when an officer with the New Richmond (OH) Police Department backpedaled away from a rapidly approaching subject—who was not complying with the officer's orders to take his hand from his pocket—ultimately tripping and falling to his back with his gun in his hand? That subject was known at the time to be suspected of killing his fiancée and his best friend.

We've seen officers recoil and fail to use force when the use of force is the appropriate action.

Remember when an officer with the Birmingham (AL) Police Department was disarmed and pistol-whipped by a convicted felon whose record included an attempted-murder charge, as well as convictions for robbery and assault? That officer later told CNN that he hesitated to use force because he didn't want to be accused of needlessly killing an unarmed man.

It's a national nightmare—and it is getting worse.

I've said for five years that if we fail to reverse the Ferguson Effect we as a society will hurtle headlong into an era of limitless lawlessness—some sort of post-apocalyptic dystopia resembling a combination of scenes from the movies "Mad Max" and "The Purge"—where the malevolent rule over the innocent with the ever-present threat of violence.

Nature hates a vacuum. When the police withdraw from the field, criminals are inspired to commit more crime and escalate their attacks on law enforcement.

Keep Winning

Five years ago, police officers across the country participated in the ice-bucket challenge—pouring a big bucket of ice water on themselves in a fundraising effort for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

I participated and I'm not even a cop.

It was fun and funny and it helped raise money for a fantastic cause.

But the latest "bucket challenge" is anything but fun, funny, or fantastic.

It is criminal. It is reprehensible. And it's potentially very dangerous.

I fear that someone is going to get hurt or killed if this mayhem continues unabated.

In closing, let's not forget that the overwhelming majority of American citizens support and respect their police. These people are largely a silent majority whose voices—in the rare instances in which they do raise their voices in favor of law enforcement—are completely drowned out by the anti-police crowd.

It's the sad reality of today's society that evil appears—at first glance—to be triumphing over good.

Evil is not actually winning, but when you fire up your computer and see the latest headlines, that's the way it looks.


I'm not telling you to not be furious incensed about this week's "water bucket" attacks.

Quite the opposite, in fact—widespread anger about this disrespect for law enforcement is the only rational, reasonable response to this irrational, unreasonable insanity.

I'm mad as hell—so outraged and angry that I'm virtually vibrating.

Be mad.

Be outraged.

Be angry.

Be furious, incensed, irritated, and livid.

You have every right to those reactions—in fact, any other responses are incomprehensible.

However, I implore you to channel your this into something good and useful and productive and positive.

Keep doing what you do.

Keep protecting the innocent.

Keep enforcing the laws.

Keep arresting the criminal offenders.

Keep watching out for each other and backing each other up.

Keep going home safely to your family after every tour.

Don't succumb to the Ferguson Effect.

It looks at times like the bad guys are winning.

But they're not.

You are.

Keep winning.

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