The Ferguson Effect is in full force across America, and one of the most powerful incentives for police officers to do as little as possible is the Obama Department of Justice. The Ferguson effect, to review, is the reality that police officers, particularly in Democrat-controlled cities, or anywhere with a large black population, are only answering calls. They are avoiding pro-active police work, and absolutely avoiding having to deal with young, black males. As a result, crime rates, after a very long decline, are once again on the rise. Officers understand all too well that merely doing their duties properly can see them disciplined, fired, or even prosecuted and jailed. And when their jurisdiction is done with them, the federal government has been more than willing to jump in to impose its own punishment, such punishment including onerous and horrifically expensive consent decrees giving the DOJ absolute control over day to day operations.
In the last few days of the Age of Obama, the DOJ has completed a rushed “investigation” into the Chicago Police Department, and to no one’s surprise, found it a cesspool of racism and police violence. The invaluable Heather Mac Donald, at City Journal, reports:
The most important statement in the Justice Department’s damning report on the Chicago Police Department has nothing to do with police behavior. Released on Friday, the report found the Chicago police guilty of a ‘pattern or practice’ of unconstitutional force. But it turns out that the Justice Department has no standard for what constitutes a ‘pattern or practice’ (the phrase comes from a 1994 federal statute) of unconstitutional police conduct. ‘Statistical evidence is not required’ for a ‘pattern or practice’ finding, the DOJ lawyers announce, citing unrelated court precedent. Nor is there ‘a specific number of incidents’ required to constitute a ‘pattern or practice,’ they proclaim.
Uh-oh. I’m sure, gentle readers, you can see where this is going.
Having cleared themselves of any obligation to provide ‘a specific number of [unconstitutional] incidents’ or a statistical benchmark for evaluating them, the DOJ attorneys proceed to ignore any further obligation of transparency. The reader never learns how many incidents of allegedly unconstitutional behavior the Justice Department found, nor how those incidents compare with the universe of police-civilian contacts conducted by the Chicago Police Department. No clue is provided regarding why the DOJ lawyers concluded that the alleged abuses reached the mysterious threshold for constituting a pattern or practice. Instead, the report uses waffle words like ‘several,’ ‘often,’ or ‘many’ as a substitute for actual quantification. This vacuum of information hasn’t stopped the mainstream media from trumpeting the report as yet another exposé of abusive, racist policing. EXCESSIVE FORCE IS RIFE IN CHICAGO, U.S. REVIEW FINDs, read the headline on the New York Times’s front-page story, which went on to note that the excessive force was ‘chiefly aimed at African-Americans and Latinos.’
The report does disclose that the DOJ attorneys reviewed 425 incidents of less-than-lethal force between January 2011 and April 2016. But what proportion of total force incidents those 425 events represent or how many of those 425 incidents the federal lawyers found unconstitutional isn’t revealed. As to how many stops and arrests were made over that same time period that didn’t involve the use of force, the reader can only guess.
Let us pause to reflect that police agencies are in the business of dealing with the worst and most violent elements of society. A “use of force,” which the report certainly doesn’t define, may be anything from grabbing someone and briefly wrestling them into handcuffs, to having to beat them unconscious, or shooting them, to avoid being killed by an aggressive and vicious criminal. Let us also pause to remember we’re speaking about Chicago, the murder capital of America, also a city wholly owned by the Democrat Party for decades, and one of the most corrupt, criminal-ridden places on Earth. One might expect the Chicago Police to have to use force rather more often than the police just about anywhere else–if they’re doing their jobs.
We also learn that the federal civil rights team identified 203 officer-involved shootings between January 1, 2011, and March 21, 2016. How many of those were bad shootings? Fifteen? One hundred? The reader is left in the dark. The massive New York Police Department averaged 48 shootings a year from 2005 to 2015. The per-capita rate of officer shootings in the NYPD is therefore much lower than in the Chicago Police Department, which is about a third the size. But Chicago’s crime rate is much higher than New York’s; CPD officers confront many more armed and resisting suspects. It would have been useful to know how the ratio of officer-involved shootings to criminal shootings in Chicago compares to other cities. We don’t even learn how many of those 203 officer-involved shootings in Chicago were lethal.
Why doesn’t the report provide the statistics McDonald notes are missing? First, because the report was hastily finished to allow the Obama DOJ, during its actual last hours, to get its progressive claws into the Chicago PD. But most importantly, because a competent examination of the truth obviously wouldn’t give the DOJ the results it decided it wanted long before the first DOJ attorney was assigned to the investigation. In other words, the DOJ is lying in order to obtain political goals it cannot obtain with the truth.
The lack of any transparent methodology is the most damning aspect of the DOJ analysis, but its racial accusations are the most dangerous. The federal attorneys have the gall to recycle the calumny from ‘the community’ that the ‘CPD does not genuinely care about the murders of young black men and women, and [does] too little to investigate and resolve those homicides,’ in the words of the report.
And who, pray tell, is “the community?” With whom did the DOJ speak to obtain this information? How many? When? Under what circumstances? Did these people have an ax to grind against the CPD? And how is this incredibly broad conclusion reached and quantified? Where is the proof, even anecdotal proof, of this contention? Obviously, such a claim is hyperbole, and equally obviously improper. One might investigate the methodology the CPD used with a given case and reasonably conclude that it was not done to professional standards, but that speaks to only one case, and does not explain why it was not done to professional standards. Was insufficient manpower unavailable (always a problem in police work)? Did detectives merely overlook something, or was some degree of incompetence involved? There are multiple other factors that could be involved in any case, but none of them can add up to a lack of caring by every man and woman in the CPD. That’s a political, progressive evening news sound byte conclusion, not a professional, rational conclusion.
The federal investigators appear oblivious to the profound disorder and predation in gang-infested neighborhoods. After echoing the charge that the CPD doesn’t try hard enough to solve crimes in black neighborhoods, the report implies that assertive officers who seek out crime in between their radio assignments are over-aggressive.
Goodness! We wouldn’t want police officers that try to catch criminals and keep them from preying on the innocent, would we? Do we really want officers that do nothing more than wait for calls from their dispatcher, then placidly drive to those addresses and take reports of crimes already committed, or do we want officers that understand criminals, and work hard to catch them before they commit additional crimes, or catch them in the act? The Obama DOJ doesn’t want that kind of officer, particularly if the criminals they catch are non-white.
The civil rights attorneys [McDonald is speaking of the DOJ] are clearly alarmed that promotion to specialized gang units depends on ‘aggression, hustle, and effort,’ in the words of a sergeant. The attorneys question the use of arrests as one measure of productivity—having just repeated the lie that the department doesn’t care about clearing cases. The federal investigators are scandalized by a suggestion during a Compstat crime-analysis meeting that car stops be increased to quell a spate of drive-by shootings. ‘There was no discussion,’ primly respond the Washington attorneys, ‘about . . . the negative impact [the tactic] could have on police-community relations.’ The impact of drive-by shootings on the ‘community’ is not addressed.
What the unnamed sergeant is referring to is officers that do more than merely wait for calls, people motivated to learn, grow and do their jobs exceedingly well, and in so doing, make life difficult from criminals, and better for “the community.” Arrests should never be the sole measure of officer productivity, but they are an essential part of any officer’s evaluation. What is a supervisor to think of an officer working in a high crime area—that’s Chicago—who hasn’t made a single arrest in a month? What’s that officer doing out there—sleeping?
Police professionals and rational citizens would think making more car stops to deter and catch drive by shooters a good thing. After all, the thugs doing them are “driving,” hence “drive by shootings.” Obviously, to the minds—pitifully small and narrow as they are—of DOJ attorneys, effective policing is not what “the community” wants and needs. Again, this makes sense only if “the community” is comprised of young, black male criminals beloved of the Justice Department.
It wouldn’t be a Justice Department civil rights report without a spurious population benchmark to measure allegedly biased policing. The Chicago report notes portentously that blacks were the subjects of 76 percent of force incidents between 2011 and early 2016, while whites were only 8 percent of force subjects, though blacks and whites are each about a third of Chicago’s population. Ergo, biased policing.
This is a long time, thoroughly dishonest and destructive trick of the Obama Administration: statistical disparity. Cherry pick a statistic, and without any analysis of the related, and particularly the causative, factors, claim that single statistic compels whatever action they want. Notice what’s missing from the DOJ statistical recitation: any information about how much crime—and what kinds of crime—is committed by blacks in Chicago. McDonald explains:
Here is the data that you will never find in any Justice Department civil rights report. In 2014, a thoroughly representative year, blacks made up 79 percent of all known non-fatal shooting suspects in Chicago, 85 percent of all known robbery suspects, and 77 percent of all known murder suspects, according to police department records. Whites were 1 percent of known non-fatal shooting suspects in 2014, 2.5 percent of known robbery suspects, and 5 percent of known murder suspects, the latter category being composed almost exclusively of domestic violence incidents. Whites are virtually absent from the population of violent street criminals, which is the population against which police force is most likely to be used. There is no evidence, in other words, that the use of force is racially biased.
So, we discover that blacks commit crimes, particularly violent crimes, out of all proportion to their distribution in the population, and whites do not–quite the opposite. If the police weren’t having far more violent confrontations with black criminals—caused by black criminals, not the police–the only possible conclusion would have to be they aren’t doing their jobs. McDonald’s conclusion:
Chicago is the country’s most shocking example of what I have called the Ferguson effect: the phenomenon of police officers in high-crime areas backing off of proactive policing, resulting in the emboldening of criminals. With investigatory stops down 82 percent through most of 2016 compared with 2015, there were over 3,400 shootings in Chicago last year. One person was shot every two hours on average. The police shot just over 25 people, or 0.6 percent of all total shootings. The DOJ report is silent about that ratio. The biggest challenge facing the CPD today is how to encourage officers to reengage with criminal suspects. The DOJ report is silent about that matter as well.
By all means, take the link and read the rest of McDonald’s informative article. A total of 25 police shootings in a free-fire war zone like Chicago in a year is a ridiculously low number, and as McDonald notes, not at all indicative of excessive police force, rather the opposite. The DOJ’s intentions for Chicago, if not intercepted and reversed by the Trump Administration, will accomplish only one thing: far more deaths and far more crimes. No officer in his right mind will do more than answer calls with the progressive apparatchiks of the DOJ breathing down his or her neck.
As always, the people most damaged by the policies of the federal government, and yet another Democrat ruled city, will be the urban poor—mostly blacks and Hispanics–about who they claim to care so much.