The Obama administration is pushing back against the assertions of top DOJ officials that the "Ferguson Effect" may be having an impact on officer performance throughout the nation as well as a related uptick in violent crime.
The "Ferguson Effect" refers to the phenomenon where police officers, wary of becoming the next "viral video" or having their actions mischaracterized by the media and public, pull back from the type of proactive policing tactics that have contributed to a decrease in crime and disorder over the past 25 years.
In separate comments, the head of the FBI and DEA both publicly questioned whether or not officers were being affected by the hyper-scrutiny being placed upon them in the wake of the Ferguson and Staten Island incidents.
James Comey, Director of the FBI, stated last month in reference to a noticeable increase in violent crime, "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."
He added, "In today's YouTube world, are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime?"
Those comments were followed only days later by a similar statement made by the acting Chief of the DEA, Chuck Rosenberg.
Rosenberg, referencing Comey's comments regarding the "Ferguson Effect," stated, "I think there is something to it. I think he was spot on.”
He later added, "Rightly or wrongly, you become the next viral video; now you can do everything right and still end up on the evening news."
The comments by Mr. Comey and Mr. Rosenberg, two of the Obama administration's top law enforcement officials, drew a rebuke from White House press secretary, Josh Earnest.
Earnest stated, "Mr. Rosenberg, as you pointed out, is the second administration official to make that kind of claim without any evidence."
He added, "I guess you’d have to ask him exactly what point he’s trying to make. You might also ask him whether there’s any evidence to substantiate the claim that he’s made."
Despite the White House questioning the reality or extent of influence surrounding the "Ferguson Effect," a greater number of law enforcement leaders have publicly lamented its impact on their officers' state of mind and performance.
Scott G. Erickson, President of Americans in Support of Law Enforcement, has written on the topic multiple times. You can read his analysis HERE.
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