Publisher's Note: One of the most significant things you can do to promote Liberty is to support our mission. Please make your gift to the 2023 Year-End Campaign today. Thank you! —Mark Alexander, Publisher

May 18, 2016

The Real Ferguson Effect

Even skeptics are admitting the “racist cop” narrative is causing crime.

Criminologist Richard Rosenfeld, who told us last year that there was no connection between anti-police protests and increased crime and murder rates, now appears to be eating his words. A deeper analysis of crime statistics now leads Rosenfeld to believe that the so-called “Ferguson effect” may be real after all.

“These aren’t flukes or blips, this is a real increase” in crime, Rosenfeld recently admitted. “We need to figure out why it happened.”

Welcome to reality, Mr. Rosenfeld.

The Ferguson effect refers to the phenomenon that law enforcement officers working inner city streets are becoming less likely to engage with minorities for fear of losing their jobs over racism accusations. This reduced engagement in turn encourages criminals to break the law. The term comes from the city in which police officer Darren Wilson was accused of wrongfully shooting suspect Michael Brown during a physical altercation. Wilson was exonerated, but leftist race-baiters continue to use the incident as a symbol of police brutality and oppressive law enforcement against minorities.

FBI Director James Comey first suggested that the Ferguson effect was partly responsible for a crime spike last October. Barack Obama’s White House promptly threw him under the bus, choosing to embrace the Black Lives Matter view that police are the problem, not the criminals. (Which was why Obama awarding medals of valor to several officers recently was problematic.)

Yet Comey remains convinced that a conscious or unconscious reluctance to engage potential criminals exists among urban law enforcement. Referring to the phenomenon as a “viral video effect,” Comey said last week. “There’s a perception that police are less likely to do the marginal additional policing that suppresses crime.”

The Left’s response has been typical. Accusations have been hurled at Comey and Rosenfeld for engaging in an “evidence-free debate,” and for cherry-picking data to support their hypothesis.

Leftists specialize in fact-free debates because they can say anything they want and don’t have to worry about being proved wrong. Unfortunately, this debate does have some pesky facts that back up the Ferguson effect theory.

In 2015, the first full year after the Ferguson shooting, there was a 17% increase in homicides across 56 large cities. Among that sample, 10 cities saw a 33% increase in homicides. All 10 of those cities have large black populations, and most of the murder victims were black or Hispanic men.

Leftist organizations have been tying themselves in knots trying to explain away the Ferguson effect as fantasy. The Brennan Center claims that the overall increase in the murder rate in the nation’s largest cities is not indicative of a crime wave. They also use poverty and the heroin epidemic as an excuse for the rise, not reduced policing.

Rosenfeld counters that the focus on poverty does not explain the rapid rise in the murder rate over a one-year period. The same can be said for the heroin epidemic, which has been on law enforcement’s radar since 2011.

Violence and criminal behavior can have many causes — poverty, lack of education, broken homes, histories of abuse — and these causes often work in combination. But reduced policing will also lead to increased criminal behavior when it becomes apparent in at-risk neighborhoods that the cops are not going to get out of their cars at 2:00 a.m.

Back in the early 1990s, leftists didn’t want to credit increased policing for dramatically reducing crime, and they are conversely unwilling to recognize a lack of policing for a rise in crime now. They would much prefer to frame the whole argument in racial and poverty terms because it fits their divisive narrative.

The fact remains that crime is on the upswing in many American cities, and unless law enforcement has the support it needs to do something about it, we may be heading back to the bad old days when good people just didn’t go out after dark.

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

The Patriot Post and Patriot Foundation Trust, in keeping with our Military Mission of Service to our uniformed service members and veterans, are proud to support and promote the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, both the Honoring the Sacrifice and Warrior Freedom Service Dogs aiding wounded veterans, the National Veterans Entrepreneurship Program, the Folds of Honor outreach, and Officer Christian Fellowship, the Air University Foundation, and Naval War College Foundation, and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. "Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13)


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

Please join us in prayer for our nation — that righteous leaders would rise and prevail and we would be united as Americans. Pray also for the protection of our Military Patriots, Veterans, First Responders, and their families. Please lift up your Patriot team and our mission to support and defend our Republic's Founding Principle of Liberty, that the fires of freedom would be ignited in the hearts and minds of our countrymen.

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2023 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.