Category Archives: Policing

Hiding the Rise of Violent Crime

Not getting the attention it needs to get.  I’m disappointed, though not surprised, that the Obama administration as well as many on the Left do not want to have a more open discussion.  Where is the Reverend Jesse Jackson? Where is Al Sharpton? Where is Eric Holder?
By Heather Mac Donald
Dec. 25, 2015 1:09 p.m. WSJ

Murders and shootings have spiked in many American cities—and so have efforts to ignore or deny the crime increase. The see-no-evil campaign eagerly embraced a report last month by the Brennan Center for Justice called “Crime in 2015: A Preliminary Analysis.” Many progressives and their media allies hailed the report as a refutation of what I and others have dubbed the “Ferguson effect”— cops backing off from proactive policing, demoralized by the ugly vitriol directed at them since a police shooting in Ferguson, Mo., last year. Americans are being asked to disbelieve both the Ferguson effect and its result: violent crime flourishing in the ensuing vacuum.

In fact, the Brennan Center’s report confirms the Ferguson effect, while also showing how clueless the media are about crime and policing.

The Brennan researchers gathered homicide data from 25 of the nation’s 30 largest cities for the period Jan. 1, 2015, to Oct. 1, 2015. (Not included were San Francisco, Indianapolis, Columbus, El Paso and Nashville.) The researchers then tried to estimate what 2015’s full-year homicide numbers for those 25 cities would be, based on the extent to which homicides were up from January to October this year compared with the similar period in 2014.

The resulting projected increase for homicides in 2015 in those 25 cities is 11%. (By point of comparison, the FiveThirtyEight data blog looked at the 60 largest cities and found a 16% increase in homicides by September 2015.) An 11% one-year increase in any crime category is massive; an equivalent decrease in homicides would be greeted with high-fives by politicians and police chiefs. Yet the media have tried to repackage that 11% homicide increase as trivial.

Several strategies are employed to play down the jump in homicides. The simplest is to hide the actual figure. An Atlantic magazine article in November, “Debunking the Ferguson Effect,” reports: “Based on their data, the Brennan Center projects that homicides will rise slightly overall from 2014 to 2015.” A reader could be forgiven for thinking that “slightly” means an increase of, say, 2%. Nothing in the Atlantic write-up disabuses the reader of that mistaken impression. The website Vox, declaring the crime increase “bunk,” is similarly discreet about the actual homicide rate, leaving it to the reader’s imagination. Crime & Justice News, published by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, coyly admits that “murder is up moderately in some places” without disclosing what that “moderate” increase may be.

A second strategy for brushing off the homicide surge is to contextualize it over a long period. Because homicides haven’t returned to their appalling early 1990s or early 2000s levels, the current crime increase is insignificant, the Brennan Center and its media supporters suggest, echoing an argument that arose immediately after I first documented the Ferguson effect nationally.

“Today’s murder rates are still at all-time historic lows,” write the Brennan researchers. “In 1990 there were 29.3 murders per 100,000 residents in these cities. In 2000, there were 13.8 murders per 100,000. Now, there are 9.9 murders per 100,000 residents. Averaged across the cities, we find that while Americans in urban areas have experienced more murders this year than last year, they are safer than they were five years ago and much safer than they were 25 years ago.”

The Atlantic is similarly reassuring about today’s homicide rate: “The relative uptick”—which, again, the magazine never specifies—“is still small compared with the massive two-decade drop that preceded it.” True enough, though irrelevant—good policing over the past two decades produced an extraordinary 50% drop in crime. America isn’t going to give all that back in one year. The relevant question: What is the current trend? If this year’s homicide and shooting outbreak continues, those 1990s violent crime levels will return sooner than anyone could have imagined.

The most desperate tactic for discounting the homicide increase is to disaggregate the average. “Fears of ‘a new nationwide crime wave’ are premature at best and wildly misleading at worst,” asserts the Atlantic, because the “numbers make clear that violent crime is up in some major U.S. cities and down in others.”

But such variance is inherent in any average. If there weren’t variation across the members of a set, no average would be needed. Any national crime increase or decrease will have counterexamples of the dominant trend within it, yet policy makers and analysts rightly find the average meaningful. The Ferguson effect’s existence does not require that every city experience depolicing and a resulting crime increase. Enough cities—in particular, those with significant black populations and where antipolice agitation has been most strident—are experiencing murder increases that cannot be ignored.

Baltimore’s per capita homicide rate, for example, is now the highest in its history, according to the Baltimore Sun: 54 homicides per 100,000 residents, beating its 1993 rate of 48.8 per 100,000 residents. Shootings in Cincinnati, lethal and not, were up 30% by mid-September 2015 compared with the same period in 2014. Homicides in St. Louis were up 60% by the end of August. In Los Angeles, the police department reports that violent crime has increased 20% as of Dec. 5; there were 16% more shooting victims in the city, while arrests were down 9.5%. Shooting incidents in Chicago are up 17% through Dec. 13.

The Brennan Center report also tries to underplay the homicide increase by folding it into crime overall. The report projects that in 19 cities the 2015 average for all seven of the FBI’s index crimes—murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and car theft—will be 1.5% less than in 2014. The FBI’s crime index is dominated by property crimes, which outnumber offenses committed against persons by a magnitude of nearly 8 to 1. The Ferguson effect is about violent crime, not theft. Proactive police stops and low-level misdemeanor enforcement deter young men from carrying guns, thus heading off violent felonies before they can erupt.

Career burglars are less affected by whether a cop is likely to get out of his car and question someone hitching up his waistband on a known drug corner at 1 a.m. If property crimes haven’t increased as much as homicides, that’s good news for homeowners but no disproof of depolicing’s role in the violent-crime spike.

To the Brennan Center and its cheerleaders, the nation’s law-enforcement officials are in the grip of a delusion that prevents them from seeing the halcyon crime picture before their eyes. For the past several months, police chiefs have been sounding the alarm about rising violent crime. In August the Major Cities Chiefs Association convened an emergency session to discuss the homicide and shooting surge. “We have not seen what we’re seeing right now in decades,” Washington, D.C., Police Chief Cathy Lanier said after the summit.

In early October U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch brought together more than 100 mayors, police leaders and federal prosecutors to strategize privately over the violent-crime increase. According to the Washington Post, attendees broke out in applause when mayors attributed the increase to officers’ sinking morale.

Later in October FBI Director James Comey said in a speech: “Most of America’s 50 largest cities have seen an increase in homicides and shootings this year, and many of them have seen a huge increase.” He noted “a chill wind blowing through American law enforcement over the last year,” and called it “deeply disturbing.” The next month the acting chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Chuck Rosenberg, seconded Mr. Comey’s crime analysis and his hypothesis that the demonization of the police was likely responsible for the violent-crime increase.

President Obama wasn’t happy with his FBI director. In a speech on Oct. 27 to a gathering of international police chiefs in Chicago, he accused Mr. Comey of “cherry-picking data” and ignoring “the facts” on crime in pursuit of a “political agenda.” When the DEA’s Mr. Rosenberg endorsed Mr. Comey’s views about the Ferguson effect, the White House lashed out again: Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Mr. Rosenberg had “no evidence” for his assertions.

Critics of the Ferguson-effect analysis ignore or deny the animosity that the police now face in urban areas, brushing off rampant resistance to lawful police authority as mere “peaceful protest.” A black police officer in Los Angeles tells me: “Several years ago I could use a reasonable and justified amount of force and not be cursed and jeered at. Now our officers are getting surrounded every time they put handcuffs on someone. The spirit and the rhetoric of this flawed movement is causing more confrontations with police and closing the door on the gains in communication we had made before it began.”

St. Louis Alderman Jeffrey Boyd, at a news conference in July after his nephew was slain, made a poignant plea: “We march every time the police shoot and kill somebody. But we’re not marching when we’re killing each other in the streets. Let’s march for that.”

The St. Louis area includes Ferguson, the site of the police shooting that was so utterly distorted by protesters and the media. The Justice Department later determined that the officer’s use of force was justified, but the damage to the social fabric had already been done. Now cops making arrests in urban areas are routinely surrounded by bystanders, who swear at them and interfere with the arrests. The media and many politicians decry as racist law-enforcement tools like pedestrian stops and broken-windows policing—the proven method of stopping major crimes by going after minor ones. Under such conditions, it isn’t just understandable that the police would back off; it is also presumably what the activists and the media critics would want. The puzzle is why these progressives are so intent on denying that such depolicing is occurring and that it is affecting public safety.

The answer lies in the enduring commitment of antipolice progressives to the “root causes” theory of crime. The Brennan Center study closes by hypothesizing that lower incomes, higher poverty rates, falling populations and high unemployment are driving the rising murder rates in Baltimore, Detroit, Milwaukee, New Orleans and St. Louis. But those aspects of urban life haven’t dramatically worsened over the past year and a half. What has changed is the climate for law enforcement.

‘Proactive policing is what keeps our streets safe,” Chief William Bryson, chairman of the Delaware Police Chiefs Council, tells me. “Officers will not hesitate to go into a situation that is obviously dangerous, but because of recent pronouncements about racism, they are not so likely to make a discretionary stop of a minority when yesterday they would have.”

To acknowledge the Ferguson effect would be tantamount to acknowledging that police matter, especially when the family and other informal social controls break down. Trillions of dollars of welfare spending over the past 50 years failed to protect inner-city residents from rising predation. Only the policing revolution of the 1990s succeeded in curbing urban violence, saving thousands of lives. As the data show, that achievement is now in jeopardy.

Ms. Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute. This op-ed was adapted from the forthcoming winter issue of City Journal, where she is a contributing editor.


Cops are doing their Job.

Probably not “news worthy enough”.
Day in and day out, the great majority of cops do their job the right way.
April 19, 2015 5:17 p.m.

From host Bob Schieffer’s weekly commentary for CBS ’s “Face the Nation,” April 19:

The best training to be a reporter or anything else is to work the police beat, because every story you cover is the worst moment in someone’s life. If you can learn to get the right information under those circumstances, you won’t be fazed by the high and mighty and certainly not by the on-the-make politicians and spin doctors.

Which is why I want to add a paragraph or two to the rash of stories lately about cops gone wrong. This is not about them. This about all the cops you don’t read about. They deal much of the time with the dregs of our society. The schemers, the murderers, those who prey on the weak. And most of the time, the police deal with them humanely, and as they should.

What we overlook is just how difficult that can be sometimes. It’s not easy to remain passive when a child-beater looks you in the eye and tells you—you have to understand, the kid was keeping him awake. It takes a lot of professional training and strong character not to respond in anger. I know, because I spent my early years listening to some of these awful people. Sometimes I wanted to hit them myself. I didn’t, but it helped me understand how hard it is to do a cop’s job right. As hard as it is, the great majority of our cops still do just that.

Notable & Quotable: Bob Schieffer – WSJ.


If Black Lives Really Mattered…

How many African Americans can name the Sheriff in question?

I do like Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. He speaks his mind and leaves no doubt as to what he means. In an interview during Christmas week on CNN with Poppy Harlow, Clarke gave a special message to those protesting police officers under the banner of “Black lives matter.” Clarke said if black lives matter those protesters would be outraged at abortion and protesting that.

The sheriff wanted protesters to take emotion off the table and have an “objective discussion” about the reality of black on black crime. He also indicated that when the recent deaths of black men due to white police officers were a “sliver of what is going on in America’s ghettos today.”

Clarke pointed out that statistics from 2012 and 2013 indicate that in his own county of Milwaukee eighty percent of murder victims were black. Of those blacks murdered, seventy percent of their killers were black. In other words, Clarke was pointing out that blacks are killing their own people, something we have known for some time.

He also said that there were lots of lies about police put out by those with agendas and said that the use of deadly force against black males is actually down seventy-five percent since 1999. In addition to those statistics, between 2011 and 2012, 386 whites were killed by police versus 140 blacks. “So I’m just saying let’s put the data out there, and let’s have an objective discussion, minus the emotion and the minus the rhetoric,” he said.

When asked about a tweet Clarke sent to New York Times reporter Mitch Smith in which he said, “If only these faux protestors were asked by media about all black on black killing or black babies aborted in US every year.”

“When I hear these things that ‘black lives matter,’ the only people who really believe that statement are American police officers who go into American ghettos every day to keep people from killing each other,” he said. “All right, so, yes I did say that and I meant it. Look, the abortions? If black lives, if they really mattered, that’s where the outrage would be. That’s where we’d see protests.”

In addition to that tweet, Clarke provide these tweets on December 23. Though he did not blame Barack Obama, Eric Holder or Mayor Bill de Blasio for the execution of NYPD police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, he did blast the race baiting politicians for creating the pathway that led to their deaths.

There is no need to retrain police in America. We need to retrain politicians on how to end liberal gov policies that crippled Black America
— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) December 23, 2014

When I see tee shirts saying “I Can’t Breathe” I think of how liberal gov policy has its boot on the neck of the Black family.
— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) December 23, 2014

Here is a way out of the mess fueled by Pres Obama, AG Holder, Mayor de Blasio who benefited politically from this.
— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) December 23, 2014

This pathway was created by Obama, Holder, de Blasio to unjustified cop hatred by crazies. I’ll make them own this.
— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) December 24, 2014

This is the message that the POTUS should be delivering. Instead we get race politics.
— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) December 24, 2014

Many in America applaud Sheriff Clarke for speaking the truth. One of those is Jesse Lee Peterson, who praised Clarke’s statements. “He’s 100 percent correct,” Peterson said. “If black lives matter, why is it that they are not shutting down some of these clinics, if not all of them?”

Recently the sheriff said that race relations were worse under Barack Obama and turned Obama’s “You Didn’t Build That” nonsense on Obama, saying “He built that.” If black Americans understood how much those they have supported, like Barack Obama and his ilk, have sought their destruction by means of welfare and abortion, there would be hell to pay. Instead of turning on the police, these protesters would turn their rage on the politicians and the abortion clinics.


What De Blasio Won’t See

New York’s mayor doesn’t understand how police maintain order.

The scene around midtown Manhattan during the holidays is something of a madhouse—in a good way. Tens of thousands of tourists, including families, descend on Rockefeller Center to see the tree, Radio City to see the shows, and Fifth Avenue to see the department store windows, culminating in the New Year’s Eve balldrop in Times Square.

It’s hard to believe now, but there was a time when the scenes were different. There were tourists, but fewer and far fewer families. Times Square was the squalid home of sex shops and random robberies, not hotels and chain restaurants. Bryant Park on 42nd Street was a drug market, and criminals stalked the subways.

We recalled that era, as recent as the early 1990s, when we read Monday’s headline in the New York Post: “Police Give Arrests a Rest: Wary officers letting minor crooks slide.” The story reported that more of New York’s Finest are refusing to pursue routine violations, or even to take risks to pursue major violators, for fear that they won’t be supported if they run into trouble.

“My guys are writing almost no summonses, and probably only making arrests when they have to—like when a store catches a shoplifter,” one NYPD supervisor told the Post. For those who want to understand the rancorous divide between the police and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio , this is the heart of the matter. And it is ominous for social order in America’s largest city.

This gets to the debate over “broken windows” policing, in which cops don’t ignore small offenses like subway turnstile jumping or “squeegee men” who extort drivers for cash in return for washing their windshields at traffic lights with a dirty cloth. As New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and criminologist George Kelling recently explained on these pages, the point is that prosecuting small offenses rids the streets of those most likely to commit larger crimes. It also makes the streets more livable.

This is the kind of policing that Mr. de Blasio, his running mate Al Sharpton and their fellow progressives have been trying to stop. They scored their first victory in the legal case against the practice of “stop and frisk,” which a federal judge ruled unconstitutional last year.

Former mayor Mike Bloomberg appealed, and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals all but invited the challenge, but Mr. de Blasio made the case a central plank of his mayoral campaign. Upon taking office he dropped the appeal and accepted new judicial restrictions on police conduct.

In the wake of the murder of two cops sitting in their patrol cars this month, Mr. de Blasio and the progressives suddenly realize they have a police problem. At the funeral for patrolman Rafael Ramos on Saturday, thousands of police turned out and many turned their back as the mayor spoke. On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, Mr. Bratton deplored that gesture but admitted that “morale in the department at this time is low. There is no getting around that.”

Mr. de Blasio tried to make some amends on Monday by speaking at a police cadet graduation and praising their “noble calling.” We’re glad he thinks so, but what the police and the public want is more than appeasing rhetoric. They want to know that the mayor understands the hard-won progress New York has made against public disorder, and how it was accomplished. He could start by letting Mr. Bratton instruct him on the direct connection between “broken windows” and all those happy holiday tourists.

via What De Blasio Won’t See – WSJ.