Chuck Rosenberg, the head of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), today backed up the assertions of FBI Director James Comey concerning the potential influence that the "Ferguson Effect" is having on law enforcement officers nationwide.
The "Ferguson Effect" refers to the phenomenon where police officers become reluctant to engage criminals for fear that their interaction will be mischaracterized, turned into a criminal inquiry, or their reputations maligned.
This pull-back may be at least partly responsible for the spike in violent crime throughout the nation. As officers disengage, so the theory goes, criminals become more emboldened and crime rates increase.
"I rely on the chiefs and the sheriffs who are saying that they have seen or heard behavioral changes among the men and women of their forces," said Rosenberg.
The DEA Chief's remarks come in the wake of recent comments made by FBI Director James Comey.
Last month, Comey told a group of students at Chicago Law School that, "Something deeply disturbing is happening in places across America. Far more people are being killed in many American cities, many of them people of color, and it's not the cops doing the killing."
He continued, "Part of the explanation is a chill wind that has blown through law enforcement over the last year and that wind is surely changing behavior. In today's YouTube world, are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime?"
Although two of the nation's leading law enforcement officials have now publicly lamented the potential influence of the "Ferguson Effect" on crime, the Obama White House has been reluctant to follow suit.
The president himself pushed back against the assertion, arguing that statistics don't back up the notion that a violent crime wave is gripping the nation.
"We do have to stick with the facts. What we can't do is cherry-pick data or use anecdotal evidence to drive policy or to feed political agendas," Obama said to a group of law enforcement officials last month.
Some statistics do, however, belie the president's comments. In the city of Baltimore, there have been 288 homicides so far this year, a jump from the 211 that occurred during the entirety of 2014.
In Washington, D.C., 136 homicides have occurred in 2015, a 51 percent increase from the number of homicides at this point last year.
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