FBI Chief: Spike in Violent Crime Caused by ‘Chill Wind’ of Police Criticism

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

In a front page story on their website, the New York Times is reporting that FBI director James Comey said Friday in a speech at University of Chicago Law School that the onslaught of criticism of law enforcement “may be the main reason for the recent increase in violent crime.”

Comey becomes America’s highest-ranking law enforcement to publicly raise a connection between “the Ferguson Effect” of intense and aggressive scrutiny of police spurred on by radical anti-law enforcement activist group Black Lives Matter and data such the huge spike in murder rates in cities like Baltimore.

The Times reported Comey said, “I don’t know whether that explains it entirely, but I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind that has blown through American law enforcement over the last year.”

The Times, which refers the Ferguson Effect as “a theory that is far from settled,” explains what Comey is hearing from law enforcement in the field.

Mr. Comey said that he has been told by many police leaders that officers who normally would stop to question suspicious people are opting to stay in their patrol cars for fear of having their encounters recorded and become video sensations. That hesitancy has led to missed opportunities to apprehend suspects and has decreased the police presence on the streets of the country’s most violent cities.

“I’ve been told about by a senior police leader who urged his force to remember that their political leadership has no tolerance for a viral video,” Mr. Comey said.

After the New York Times article swats away Comey’s direct statements from numerous police officials by saying Comey “acknowledged that there is so far no data to back up his assertion,” they go on to say the concept of a strong police presence is “particularly controversial among some Justice Department officials” in the Obama administration