The Ferguson Effect is real. A new survey now shows that police officers have backed off from using force, and as a result crime rates are rising.
The Pew Research Center released a new report that caused the Associated Press to admit that the Ferguson Effect "is a reality, with three-quarters of officers surveyed saying they are hesitant to use force, even when appropriate, and are less willing to stop and question suspicious people."
The AP highlights the following statistics from the report:
- 86 percent of officers said that fatal encounters between blacks and police have made policing more difficult
- 93 percent said they're more concerned about safety
- 76 percent said they're more reluctant to use force when appropriate
- 75 percent said interactions between police and blacks have become more tense
- 72 percent said they or their colleagues are more reluctant to stop and question people who seem suspicious
The reason for police officers becoming more hesitant in using force is because they're afraid of becoming "the next viral video," according to Darrel Stephens, the executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.
"I still have to believe it may be in a marginal-call situation where there's a reasonable suspicion on the bubble...that those are the ones they pass up," Stephens told the AP.
For example, the Daily Wire reported in October that a Chicago female police officer didn't shoot at a man who was smashing her head into the pavement due to this fear of becoming a viral video, as she didn't want her family and the police department to suffer through that kind of media hype.
Heather MacDonald, who first popularized the term "Ferguson Effect," noted in December that homicides have been projected to increase by 14 percent in the 30 biggest cities in 2016 from the year prior. Homicides rose by 14.5 percent in cities throughout the country in 2015.
"The strong version of what I have called the Ferguson Effect—a drop in proactive policing leading to rising crime—is the only explanation for the crime increase that matches the data," Mac Donald wrote.
As police officers have backed off from using force, criminals have taken advantage, which would explain the rise in crime.
The Pew Research Center's full report can be read here.
Follow Aaron Bandler on Twitter @bandlersbanter.