FBI chief again says Ferguson having chilling effect on law enforcement

27 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

FBI Director Doubles Down On Linking Scrutiny Of Police With Rise In Violent Crime.

CHICAGO — Twice in recent days, FBI Director James B. Comey has stepped to a podium here and asserted that police across the nation are reluctant to aggressively enforce the law in the post-Ferguson era of smartphones and YouTube. Repeating remarks he made last week, Comey said at the annual convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Chicago that police and communities of color are “arcing apart” with every incident that involves police misconduct or an attack on law enforcement. “I actually see an example and demonstration of that arcing through hashtags: the hashtag Black Lives Matter and the hashtag Police Lives Matter,” he said. “Of course, each of those hashtags and what they represent adds a voice to an important conversation, but each time someone interprets hashtag Black Lives Matter as anti-law enforcement, one line moves away and each time someone interprets hashtag Police Lives Matter as anti-black, the other line moves away.” “And just as those lines are arcing away, and maybe, just maybe, because those lines are arcing away from each other, we have a crisis of violent crime in some of our major cities in this country, and in those cities in some of our most vulnerable neighborhoods.” The speech echoed remarks he made during a speech at the University of Chicago Law School on Friday. Addressing police chiefs at a conference in Chicago, Comey said he could not be certain that the so-called “Ferguson effect”, following unrest in the Missouri city after the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old last year, had led to a retreat by officers, but said this was “common sense”. “The question is, are these kinds of things changing police behavior around the country?” said Comey. “The honest answer is I don’t know for sure whether that’s the case … but I do have a strong sense.” Barack Obama’s press secretary, however, said at a White House briefing on Monday that available evidence “does not support the notion that law enforcement officers around the country are shying away from fulfilling their responsibilities”. Comey said Monday that the national debate over whether the phrase “Black Lives Matter” is anti-cop is further deteriorating the relationship between police officers and minority communities.

This is not a new theory — it has been voiced here by the head of the police union and by the former police commissioner, who said he believed officers “took a knee” after April’s riots. There, he questioned whether people with cell phone cameras were causing police to avoid daily interactions. “In today’s YouTube world, are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime?

Law enforcement leaders were “on the contrary” reporting that officers were “dedicated public servants, who on a daily basis are putting their lives on the line to serve and protect the communities that they’re assigned to”, said Josh Earnest. And he suggested that police officers themselves are in part to blame, made gun shy by the prospect of getting caught on the next video of alleged police brutality. Earlier this month, the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, said he worries about officers becoming reluctant to take action. “This subject is especially urgent in Chicago because gun violence has jumped here, lately.

The New York Times ran a front-page story on the crime spike at the end of August, but while some of the statistics can be deceiving – especially after a decades-long crime decline as the United States experienced from the mid-1990s to today – some trends in some cities are worrying. Comey admits is a lack of any real data to support it, the theory is a damaging one to advance, as it only underscores the disconnect between police and the communities they are supposed to serve. His comments have been interpreted as giving credence to the notion of a “Ferguson effect” — the theory that riots and racial unrest in places such as Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, where police were accused of killing civilians, has prompted police officers to become more restrained. At the same time, Chicago police are under pressure to dial back how often they stop and frisk people — the ACLU threatened a lawsuit over racial disparities, and the department agreed to keep closer track on who’s being stopped, and why.

Some officers say that kind of scrutiny makes them less likely to follow their instincts.” “More people who have dreadlocks are targeted and pulled over,” she said. “So if your hair is a certain way and you’re black, you’re a black male, you’re pulled over, you’re targeted.” “Mr. Citing a “wind of viral videos” depicting police officers at work that he said was blowing through law enforcement, Comey argued that public outcry often follows directly. “That wind is surely changing behavior, common sense tells me,” he said.

Coming from the nation’s top law enforcement official, the remarks have landed like a bombshell in criminal justice circles, offending people across the political spectrum. Holding the police accountable for civil rights violations has been a top priority at the department in recent years, and some senior officials do not believe that scrutiny of police officers has led to an increase in crime.

The Sentencing Project, a criminal justice nonprofit, has published research indicating that a rise in homicides in the St Louis area predated the death in Ferguson of Michael Brown and the ensuing protests. The issue is the use of force when it’s not needed, the violation of civil rights and the general dehumanization of people who live in high crime areas, usually African Americans. Policing groups, meanwhile, have been equally infuriated by the assertion that their officers have been somehow derelict in their duties, frightened by teenagers with cellphone cameras. “Time and time again [Comey] generalizes about a segment of the population that he knows nothing about,” said James O. They are being killed, police chiefs tell me, by other young men with guns.” On Monday, Comey said that he welcomes scrutiny of policing by the Department of Justice — reviews such as those conducted in Ferguson, St.

Acknowledging that some regions were “dealing with a serious uptick” in crime, Earnest said the administration was devoting “serious consideration” to this while also attempting to push an overhaul of the criminal justice system through Congress. But a series of subsequent cases — the killings of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott and Sam DuBose, the arrest of Sandra Bland and others — cannot be construed as situations conscientious officers would find themselves in simply by doing their jobs.

They swear him in as the director of the FBI and all of a sudden he’s an expert on what police officers are thinking.” As Comey was preparing to deliver his address Friday, Obama was hosting a criminal-justice forum at the White House, where he celebrated “incredible, historic reductions in crime over the last 20 years.” “I know that there’s been some talk in the press about spikes that are happening this year relative to last year. Comey on Monday acknowledged that he had only anecdotal evidence to support the theory, and reiterated an earlier call, similar to those made by Barack Obama and attorney general Loretta Lynch, for law enforcement to collect and publicize more data. Given the history of drug dealing and other crime in the area, few would question officers’ decision to approach the corner where Gray and another man where hanging out on the morning of April 12.

Public officials have butted heads over what the movement stands for in the past week, after Obama praised the movement on Thursday for raising legitimate concerns about policing practices in the US. In Chicago the abundance of guns compared to other major cities is considered a major factor, but factors can range from the splintering of gangs and the destruction of low-income housing developments, to local economic slowdowns. Are those who say officers are afraid of scrutiny willing to argue that actions like those are necessary — or even in any way helpful — to the cause of preventing violent crime?

Blacks were charged with a variety of minor offenses — from possession of small amounts of marijuana to resisting, obstructing or delaying an officer — far more frequently than whites. North Carolina keeps more detailed data on such encounters than other states, but the pattern held in other places where the Times was able to conduct a similar analysis.

We don’t know what has caused the increase in shootings and murders in Baltimore and other cities during the last few months, but we do know the answer is not to exempt the police from public scrutiny.

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