The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said on Friday (October 23, 2015) that the additional scrutiny and criticism of police officers in the wake of highly publicized episodes of police brutality may have led to an increase in violent crime in some cities as officers have become less aggressive.
With his remarks, Mr. Comey lent the prestige of the F.B.I., the nation’s most prominent law enforcement agency, to a theory that is far from settled: that the increased attention on the police has made officers less aggressive and emboldened criminals. But he acknowledged that there is so far no data to back up his assertion and that it may be just one of many factors that are contributing to the rise in crime, like cheaper drugs and an increase in criminals who are being released from prison.
“I don’t know whether that explains it entirely, but I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind that has blown through American law enforcement over the last year,” Mr. Comey said in a speech at the University of Chicago Law School.
Mr. Comey said that he had been told by many police leaders that officers who would normally stop to question suspicious people are opting to stay in their patrol cars for fear of having their encounters become worldwide video sensations. That hesitancy has led to missed opportunities to apprehend suspects, he said, and has decreased the police presence on the streets of the country’s most violent cities.
“I’ve been told by a senior police leader who urged his force to remember that their political leadership has no tolerance for a viral video,” Mr. Comey said, adding that many leaders and officers whom he had spoken to said they were afraid to address the issue publicly.
“Lives are saved when those potential killers are confronted by a police officer, a strong police presence and actual, honest-to-goodness, up-close ‘What are you guys doing on this corner at 1 o’clock in the morning’ policing,” Mr. Comey said. “We need to be careful it doesn’t drift away from us in the age of viral videos, or there will be profound consequences.”
Not really addressed in this article: Data showing what “rise in crime” he is referring to.
Also not addressed: Why the hell makes anyone that the police “confront” a potential killer? Why do police need to “confront” people who are not appearing to break any laws? Whose lives are saved? Certainly not those being confronted. This guy does not understand cause and effect. Why do cops have to “confront” as a first reaction? They should be in the business of deescalation.
More evidence of not understanding cause and effect:
In February, Mr. Comey delivered an unusually candid speech at Georgetown University about the difficult relationship between the police and African-Americans. Some officers, he said, scrutinize minorities more closely using a mental shortcut that “becomes almost irresistible and maybe even rational by some lights” because black men are arrested at much higher rates than white men.