In a speech Friday at the University of Chicago, FBI Director James Comey made headlines by advancing the “Ferguson effect” as a real and self-evident phenomenon, claiming that increased public scrutiny of police abuse was leading to a “surge” in violent crime.
Comey’s argument is that after the anti-police backlash caused by the Ferguson killing, and other police killigs getting much more publicity in the US than they previously had (which he blamed on YouTube), the police are just laying back and not fighting crime so hard, especially in black neighborhoods, because they don’t want to be the next to come under scrutiny for abuse.
While Comey later insisted it was “just common sense,” he later admitted that he doesn’t have any real evidence that any such thing is happening, and that he just personally figured it would make sense if it did happen. The White House quickly distanced themselves from the claims.
Ironically, the few cities cited as seeing increased murder rates appear totally disconnected from the narrative, with only Cleveland having any high-profile cases, and the police there loudly championing their killing of a 12-year-old with a toy gun and going so far as to demand public apologies of some of their higher-profile critics. The notion that Cleveland of all cities, where police leadership seems to be taking killing pre-teens as a badge of honor would be one of the few where police actually starting doing less crime-fighting seems far from the “common sense” Comey believes.