"Ferguson Effect" Triggers Nationwide "Crime Wave"

Two weeks ago, we took a look at Baltimore in the aftermath of violent protests that left the city in ashes late last month. The astonishing statistic: from April 27 to May 14, there were 23 homicides in the city, for an average of 1.3 each day. 

We summed up the situation as follows: “But out of sight, out of mind for the rest of the country and we imagine that just as high crime rates and a generalized sense of despair were ignored before the riots, so too will they be ignored now that the media spectacle has died down ... at least until the next "purge."

In fact, May was the city’s bloodiest month since 1999 with more than 30 people shot on Memorial Day weekend alone. Here, courtesy of The Baltimore Sun, is a recap of those who were murdered in Baltimore from May 17 through May 25 alone:

Shaquil Hinton, 21, was killed at 12:29 a.m. Monday in the 800 block of W. Fayette St. in Poppleton, police said. He lived in the same block according to police.

 

Charles K. Jackson Jr., 32, was killed at 12:51 a.m. Sunday in the 900 block of Ducatel St. in Reservoir Hill, police said. Jackson lived nearby, in the 2300 block of Callow Ave., police said.

 

Hassan Fields, 20, was killed at 9:06 a.m. Saturday in the 100 block of S. Augusta Ave. in Irvington, police said. Fields lived in the 3700 block of W. Franklin St. in Allendale. When reached by phone, Fields' father declined to comment.

 

Umika Smith, 24, was killed at 1:28 p.m. Saturday in the 2000 block of Hollins St. in Boyd-Booth. No phone number was listed for her address in the same block. A double shooting happened nearby the following day, injuring a man and a woman, police said.

 

Bruce Fleming Jr., 23, was killed at 2 p.m. Saturday in the 2800 block of St. Lo Drive in Clifton Park, near Heritage High School, police said. Police said he lived in the 4800 block of Harford Road in Lauraville.

 

Tyrin Diggs, 19, was killed at 11:06 p.m. Friday in the first block of Benkert Ave. in Saint Josephs, police said. Diggs lived on the 700 block of E. Pontiac Ave. in Brooklyn, police said.

 

James Mckoy, 21, was killed at 11:51 p.m. Friday in the 1900 block of Wilhelm St., in Carrollton Ridge, police said. He lived in the 300 block S. Monroe St. in the same neighborhood, police said.

 

Kelvin Warfield, 25, was killed at 4:50 p.m. on Sunday, May 17, in the 100 block of S. Arlington Ave. in Hollins Market, police said. Warfield lived in the 2500 block of W. Fayette St., police said.

 

Additionally, a 9-year-old shot in the leg was among the victims in the shootings that took place over Memorial Day weekend, Baltimore police said.

Baltimore is not alone. 

The racially charged protests and demonstrations that have swept the country as a result of perceived police misconduct involving African American “suspects” has created what St. Louis police chief Sam Dotson calls “The Ferguson Effect”, whereby law enforcement are now more reluctant to use force to counter illegal activity for fear of prosecution or, more poignantly, for fear of finding themselves cast as the villain that catalyzes widespread civil unrest. This effect, some say, has led to a dramatic increase in violent crime throughout the country. 

Via WSJ:

In Milwaukee, homicides were up 180% by May 17 over the same period the previous year. Through April, shootings in St. Louis were up 39%, robberies 43%, and homicides 25%. “Crime is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said St. Louis Alderman Joe Vacarro at a May 7 City Hall hearing.

 

Murders in Atlanta were up 32% as of mid-May. Shootings in Chicago had increased 24% and homicides 17%. Shootings and other violent felonies in Los Angeles had spiked by 25%; in New York, murder was up nearly 13%, and gun violence 7%.

 

Those citywide statistics from law-enforcement officials mask even more startling neighborhood-level increases. Shooting incidents are up 500% in an East Harlem precinct compared with last year; in a South Central Los Angeles police division, shooting victims are up 100%.

 

By contrast, the first six months of 2014 continued a 20-year pattern of growing public safety. Violent crime in the first half of last year dropped 4.6% nationally and property crime was down 7.5%. Though comparable national figures for the first half of 2015 won’t be available for another year, the January through June 2014 crime decline is unlikely to be repeated…

 

Almost any police shooting of a black person, no matter how threatening the behavior that provoked the shooting, now provokes angry protests..

 

Acquittals of police officers for the use of deadly force against black suspects are now automatically presented as a miscarriage of justice…

 

This incessant drumbeat against the police has resulted in what St. Louis police chief Sam Dotson last November called the “Ferguson effect.” Cops are disengaging from discretionary enforcement activity and the “criminal element is feeling empowered,” Mr. Dotson reported. Arrests in St. Louis city and county by that point had dropped a third since the shooting of Michael Brown in August. Not surprisingly, homicides in the city surged 47% by early November and robberies in the county were up 82%.

 

Similar “Ferguson effects” are happening across the country as officers scale back on proactive policing under the onslaught of anti-cop rhetoric. Arrests in Baltimore were down 56% in May compared with 2014.

 

“Any cop who uses his gun now has to worry about being indicted and losing his job and family,” a New York City officer tells me. “Everything has the potential to be recorded. A lot of cops feel that the climate for the next couple of years is going to be nonstop protests.”

And while Heather Mac Donald — the author of the WSJ piece, Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and the author of “Are Cops Racist?” — may be correct to say that “contrary to the claims of the 'black lives matter' movement, no government policy in the past quarter century has done more for urban reclamation than proactive policing. Data-driven enforcement, in conjunction with stricter penalties for criminals and “broken windows” policing, has saved thousands of black lives, brought lawful commerce and jobs to once drug-infested neighborhoods and allowed millions to go about their daily lives without fear,” it certainly seems reasonable to suggest that the logic behind the following statement from an NYPD officer Mac Donald interviewed for her piece seems questionable at best:

“Does an officer need to be unconscious before he can use force? If someone is willing to fight you, he’s also willing to take your gun and shoot you. You can’t lose a fight with a guy who has already put his hands on you because if you do, you will likely end up dead.”

Whatever position you care to take on the above, what's clear is that race relations in America are deteriorating, as are class relations with policy decisions at the highest levels serving only to exacerbate the divide between the rich and the poor (as discussed in "America's Class Segregation Problem In Four Charts"), thus creating still more tension in poor communities that have already sufferred from a lack of real opportunities for decades.

Does the recent wave of protests and demonstrations mark an epochal shift in American society or will this all be quietly swept under the rug in order to maintain the appearance of social stability?

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