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Culture Beat / May 13, 2016

FBI Director Again Speaks Truth on 'Ferguson Effect'

"Something is happening. A whole lot more people are dying."

The New York Times calls it a “factious debate,” but it’s getting harder to discount the Ferguson Effect. Last October, FBI director James Comey admitted, “Far more people of color are being killed in America’s cities this year. And it’s not the cops doing the killing.” As elaborated by The Wall Street Journal, “Comey … suggested the increase may be partly due to what police officials call the ‘Ferguson effect’ — a greater reluctance on the part of police officers to engage with suspects for fear of being criticized for alleged abuse or discrimination.”

On Wednesday, he reiterated that opinion. According to The New York Times, Comey suggested “less aggressive policing was driving an alarming spike in murders in many cities,” a conclusion he reached “after speaking with a number of police officials” who suggested “a ‘viral video effect’ — with officers wary of confronting suspects for fear of ending up on a video — ‘could well be at the heart’ of a spike in violent crime in some cities.”

The Times adds, “Mr. Comey’s remarks were prompted by a private briefing he received on Wednesday about rising crime rates in more than 40 cities during the first quarter of 2016. He said the new statistics, which have not been made public, showed a significant jump in murder rates in many cities. The numbers rose even more quickly than last year.” Comey said, “Something is happening. A whole lot more people are dying this year than last year, and last year than the year before and I don’t know why for sure,” before adding the Ferguson Effect “could well be an important factor in this.”

As David French writes, “Given the horrifying and increasing death toll in many of our nation’s cities, Black Lives Matter may be the most inaccurately named political movement in modern political history. Comey is raising the difficult questions. Will the Left have the courage to seek honest answers?”

According to the Chicago Tribune, the city has already registered 215 homicides since Jan. 1. Last year, there was a total of 489 homicides. Comey’s right — “Something is happening.” And that something has absolutely nothing to do with gun control laws.

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