Chicago may be the latest city dealing with the so-called “Ferguson Effect.”
It’s an idea that suggests a city’s crime rate increases as police officers turn their backs to violent crime cases. Cops who take part in what some call police slowdowns are usually upset at the growing anti-police sentiment.
On November 24, 2015, authorities finally released dashboard camera video of the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The shooting happened in October 2014, but it took 13 months of protesting for the department to finally hand the footage over.
The video showed Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times in 13 seconds. Upon release, angry Chicagoans began to protest in the streets of the Windy City, calling for the resignation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
The national attention prompted the Justice Department to investigate the Chicago Police Department to determine if the city’s cops have a habit of violating the law and/or the U.S. Constitution.
A new study by FiveThirtyEight.com suggests Chicago’s crime rate subsequently spiked soon after, during what many are calling punishment for protesting or for publicly expressing anti-police sentiment.
FiveThirtyEight’s report revealed there were 175 homicides and 675 nonfatal shootings between December 1, 2015 and March 31, 2016. Arrests were down 69 percent for nonfatal shootings and 48 percent for homicides.
Jeff Asher, a crime analyst and contributor to FiveThirtyEight.com, joined Roland Martin on Wednesday’s edition of NewsOne Now to discuss Chicago’s spike in crime.
Asher explained the site was “careful not to point out any causation” and stated, “It is difficult to say from the data what the actual cause of the slowdown or what actually caused the change in gun violence in increasing and the arrest rates for homicides, non-fatal shootings and proactivity to go down.”
Martin pushed back, saying, “It’s not like they fired a bunch of police officers, it’s not like a bunch of officers retired. You still have the same number of people who are out there on the streets and when you actually hear anecdotal information from cops — oh, they’re scared of being caught on tape.”
“Here is the reality,” Martin said. “If you don’t lie on the police report, if you don’t say that the guy came charging at you with a gun when the video shows he didn’t, you don’t go into a Burger King and erase the video — then guess what, no one’s going to say you screwed up.”
Asher responded to Martin’s challenge, connecting the crime data to the CPD slowdown: “It is a very complex problem and it’s a problem that appears to not be getting better.”
In a breakdown of the most recent crime numbers, Asher stated there have been 546 non-fatal shooting incidents in Chicago, with only 7 arrests as of April 4. Asher said, “No matter what the problem is, it is a completely untenable problem for both the Chicago Police Department and absolutely for the people of Chicago that are suffering under this gun violence epidemic.”
According to Asher, the “stay fetal” policing approach by Chicago cops is not the result of an “organized slowdown,” but is a by-product of a “natural reaction or fear and uncertainty” where law enforcement officials are not doing the police work that is so important to curb violent shootings.
Watch Roland Martin, Jeff Asher, and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the spike in Chicago violence and apparent police slowdown in the video clip above.
Subscribe to the “NewsOne Now” Audio Podcast on iTunes.
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