The Corner

FBI Director Sees Alarming Spike In Murder Rate — Doubles Down on ‘Ferguson Effect’

Last year FBI Director James Comey took heavy incoming fire over his remark that a “chill wind” was blowing through law enforcement in the aftermath of Ferguson, Baltimore, and the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement. Yesterday, he doubled down:

The director of the F.B.I. reignited the factious debate over a so-called “Ferguson effect” on Wednesday, saying that he believed less aggressive policing was driving an alarming spike in murders in many cities.

James Comey, the director, said that while he could offer no statistical proof, he believed after speaking with a number of police officials that a “viral video effect” — with officers wary of confronting suspects for fear of ending up on a video — “could well be at the heart” of a spike in violent crime in some cities.

“There’s a perception that police are less likely to do the marginal additional policing that suppresses crime — the getting out of your car at 2 in the morning and saying to a group of guys, ‘Hey, what are you doing here?’” he told reporters.

While Comey may not have offered statistical proof, there’s ample evidence from Chicago — for example — that reduced arrests, stops, and gun seizures correlate with a dramatic increase in murders. Then there’s this ominous note:

Mr. Comey’s remarks were prompted by a private briefing he received on Wednesday about rising crime rates in more than 40 cities during the first quarter of 2016.

He said the new statistics, which have not been made public, showed a significant jump in murder rates in many cities. The numbers rose even more quickly than last year, Mr. Comey said. In 2015, rising murder tallies in Washington, Baltimore, Milwaukee, St. Louis and other cities made national news . . . “I don’t know what the answer is, but holy cow, do we have a problem,” he said.

“It’s a complicated, hard issue, but the stakes couldn’t be higher. A whole lot of people are dying,” he said.

Yes, crime is a complicated, hard issue, but right now law enforcement is besieged by a movement that casts police as collection of racist villains, excuses the violence of high-crime communities, and does so on the basis of a series of monstrous (and now well-known) lies. Given the horrifying and increasing death toll in many of our nation’s cities, Black Lives Matter may be the most inaccurately named political movement in modern political history. Comey is raising the difficult questions. Will the Left have the courage to seek honest answers?

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