We all remember the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, after Michael Brown was killed by a police officer last year. By all accounts, except for the one from Brown's partner in crime, the killing was justified by Brown's aggressive actions toward the cop. The cop, Darren Wilson, paid the price by being hounded out of town by citizens and government officials alike.
That was a lesson to police officers all around the country, and now we have the Ferguson effect -- police officers slacking off for fear of ending up like Wilson. This was entirely predictable. If you want to discourage behavior, make the person doing it pay a high price.
Even FBI Director James B. Comey talks about it. Here's an excerpt from a speech he gave the other day:
Maybe something in policing has changed.
In today’s YouTube world, are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime? Are officers answering 911 calls but avoiding the informal contact that keeps bad guys from standing around, especially with guns?
I spoke to officers privately in one big city precinct who described being surrounded by young people with mobile phone cameras held high, taunting them the moment they get out of their cars. They told me, “We feel like we’re under siege and we don’t feel much like getting out of our cars.”
I’ve been told about a senior police leader who urged his force to remember that their political leadership has no tolerance for a viral video.
So the suggestion, the question that has been asked of me, is whether these kinds of things are changing police behavior all over the country.
And the answer is, I don’t know. I don’t know whether this explains it entirely, but I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind blowing through American law enforcement over the last year. And that wind is surely changing behavior.
Barack Obama and Al Sharpton bear a big part of the responsibility for this for egging on the rioters when they should have kept their mouths shut. But that's what we get for putting a community organizer in the highest office in the land.