Politics & Policy

The Ferguson Report Is a Farce . . .

. . . wrapped in a fraud, inside a sham.

On the heels of the issuance of the Department of Justice’s Ferguson Report — one of the more frivolous and sophomoric “reports” ever produced by the federal government — President Obama asserts that the pervasive racial discrimination found in the Ferguson Police Department occurs in departments across the country.

Now, maybe the Ferguson PD engages in systematic racial discrimination. Perhaps other departments also do. But nothing in this travesty of a report proves that, and the fact that the Department of Justice produced a report so buffoonish, so replete with conclusions unsupported by facts, so lacking in basic methodological rigor, is an embarrassment.

The purported evidentiary capstone to the report’s conclusion that the Ferguson PD engages in a pattern of racial discrimination is an almost juvenile reliance on disparate impact. The DOJ asserts that even though blacks comprise only 67 percent of Ferguson’s population, they represent 85 percent of all vehicle stops. From this, the mathematically and logically-challenged DOJ concludes “These disparities are unexplainable on grounds other than race and evidence that racial bias has shaped law enforcement conduct.”

Unexplainable? Only to someone who hasn’t completed third-grade arithmetic. 

As Heather Mac Donald, Hans Bader, and others have noted, several studies over the last 20 years (including data adduced before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights) show that black drivers commit various types of traffic offenses — including speeding, driving under suspension, DUI, and running red lights and stop signs – more often than drivers of other races. Could it be possible these phenomena contribute to the “unexplainable” disparities?

It’s clear that the report is designed to give cover to the president and attorney general, whose statements at the outset of the Michael Brown incident got ahead of the evidence. Its purpose is to perpetuate a politically useful narrative unsupported by facts. That, and to further the administration’s social-engineering goals. Consider: To forestall future Michael Brown–type incidents, the report suggests that “increasing gender and sexual orientation diversity in policing in particular may be critical in re-making internal police culture and creating new assumptions in what makes policing effective.” How this relates to purported racial discrimination in policing is anyone’s guess. Next up: “Using carbon- neutral police cars reduces racially discriminatory traffic stops.”

But, the report has accomplished its objective. It’s smeared police officers across the country, thereby giving the administration an excuse to exert greater control over local police departments. And it gives credence to the toxic storyline that the country as a whole remains nearly indistinguishable from 1960s Selma.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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