The War on Cops is real. The victims of this war are more black men slaughtered on the mean streets of America as police pull back, hunker down, drive on by. It’s called the Ferguson Effect and it is being felt today in Madison, Wisconsin, where bullets are flying and bodies falling at record pace. What did you expect?
(101 incidents of shots fired in Madison, a 53% more than the same period last year; and 10 homicides, tying in 7 months the city’s record for an entire year.)
A remarkable exposé now on-line at CNN connects the dots between the self-defense police shooting of Michael Brown in 2014 and the 11% spike in murder and non-negligent homicide nationally from 2014 to 2015 — the largest single-year increase in 45 years.
… No one can be certain why violent crime rose by 65% here in the first year after Mike Brown’s death, why it stayed nearly that high in the second year, why homicides went from two in 2014 to five in 2015 to nine in 2016, a higher per capita rate than Chicago. One can only speculate on why the murder rate nearly doubled in surrounding St. Louis County from 2014 to 2015, or whether it had anything to do with a sharp decrease in traffic stops and arrests for minor offenses.
“The Trigger and the Choice; Ferguson, Affected” confirms the efficacy of Broken Windows policing. It validates traffic stops as an essential crime-fighting tool. And it chronicles the pull back of police in the wake of lawsuits, Obama Justice Department consent decrees, second-guessing, and Leftist harassment.
In 2015 in Birmingham, Alabama, a man left the car during a traffic stop and moved aggressively toward an officer. The officer later said he hesitated to use force because he “didn’t want to be in the media.” The man punched him, took his gun and pistol-whipped him into unconsciousness. In 2016 in Chicago, a suspect on PCP struggled with a female officer. She later told the police superintendent she didn’t shoot him because she didn’t want to make the national news. The man overpowered her and repeatedly smashed her face on the pavement.
In a 2016 survey of nearly 8,000 police officers by the Pew Research Center, 86% said the high-profile shootings had made their jobs harder. And 72% said their colleagues were now less willing than before to stop and question suspicious people.
“Less and less [fewer and fewer] people are applying to be police officers,” said Cedric Alexander, former president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. “And I’ve had young people tell me this: ‘Why should I go out there and make $38,000 a year and get shot in the face?’”
The mayor of Ferguson, Missouri, then and now, is James Knowles.
Knowles spent five years as a Ferguson police dispatcher, getting a sense of what officers do and why they do it, and he gained an appreciation for the role of the traffic stop. It was not just about revenue, he said. It was about vigilance. If a car had the wrong plate, it might be stolen. If the car was stolen, the driver might be wanted for other crimes. If the driver was wanted for other crimes, he might be carrying an illegal gun, and he might be on his way to yet another crime.
Ted Bundy, Randy Kraft, Joel Rifkin, James E. Swanson, Jr. and Timothy McVeigh were notorious murderers. What else did they have in common? They were all captured after routine traffic stops.
If a town built a reputation for pulling over a lot of cars, which Ferguson did, then criminals would adjust their behavior and either stop driving stolen cars and illegal guns through Ferguson or stop driving through Ferguson altogether. Either way, Ferguson achieved the desired effect.
Then came the Mike Brown incident, and the protesters, and the Justice Department, and a consent decree, and the mass police exodus, and the department was left with neither the will nor the officers to stop a lot of vehicles.
There is hope. Police supporter Knowles (a white man in a city two-thirds black) was re-elected this April with 56% of the vote against a black alder woman.