The Corner

Law & the Courts

The Ferguson Effect in Ferguson

How did the Ferguson effect affect Ferguson, Mo., last year? Precisely as you would expect. The little city of 21,059 already had a disproportionately high crime rate, as anyone observing the behavior of Michael Brown before he was fatally shot by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in August 2014 would have guessed. In 2014, Ferguson’s violent-crime rate was 545 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, considerably above the 2014 national average of 362. But in 2015, the number of violent crimes in Ferguson surged 65 percent, from 115 to 190. Ferguson’s violent-crime rate in 2015 was 790 per 100,000 residents, over two times the national average of 373 in 2015. By comparison, the FBI estimates that the absolute number of the nation’s violent crimes rose nearly 4 percent in 2015, and the nation’s violent-crime rate rose 3 percent.

The number of murders in Ferguson rose 150 percent in 2015 — admittedly over a low absolute number (from two to five), but such low absolute numbers have never prevented the Left from declaring a surge in hate crimes, say. Robberies were up 60 percent, from 51 to 82, and aggravated assaults rose 46 percent, from 60 to 95.

Ferguson’s residents, in other words, and above all its black residents, faced a greatly elevated chance of being victimized by violent crime in 2015, as officers backed off from proactive policing under the Ferguson effect. Naturally, the federal consent decree that the Obama Justice Department foisted on the Ferguson police department this year made no mention of rising crime. But the costs of complying with that decree will make it even harder to bring the city’s crime rate down, by taking officers away from street patrol and redirecting them to superfluous report writing.

Ferguson, Mo., is emblematic of how the Ferguson effect is hitting cities with large black populations: It has produced the largest homicide increase in nearly a half-century. That crime increase will only end if the false narrative about policing promulgated by the Black Lives Matter movement and embraced by President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is finally put to rest.

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