This week, according to the New York Times, during a speech at the University of Chicago Law School, F.B.I. Director James B. Comey told the audience, “the additional scrutiny and criticism of police officers in the wake of highly publicized episodes of police brutality may have led to an increase in violent crime in some cities as officers have become less aggressive.” This is not a direct quote from Director Comey. This is how the Times chose to paraphrase his comments, which is deserving of its own a side-comment.
First, I should point out that the Times’ declarative statement, when paraphrasing Comey, “…episodes of police brutality…” is not accurate. Many of the cases used by radical police critics to incite ill will toward the police have turned out not to be police brutality but proper police use of force. This was true in Ferguson, Missouri, where Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed robbery suspect Michael Brown after he attacked Wilson and attempted to take the officer’s gun. At the very least, the Times should have employed the objective “uses of force” rather than the conclusive “brutality.” Even adding “alleged” would have been more objective. Now, on to the story.
Director Comey’s assertion is spot on. While he admits there is not much hard data yet correlating the “chilling affect” on police officers with a rise in crime, anecdotally, his point is well validated by cops working the streets. I know from when I was still an active cop just a short time ago, as well as from my fellow officers who are still on the job, that Comey’s observations are correct. How can this current unwarranted attack on America’s cops’ integrity, including from some of the nation’s top officials, not affect the cop on the beat?
Think about this: A white officer sees a black person jaywalking across a busy intersection causing cars to have to brake and honk their horns. In the past, an officer, without a much thought, would simply contact the offender and issue a warning or citation. Today, the officer has to consider what if the jaywalker decides to be uncooperative. What if he or she refuses to show identification? What if the situation deteriorates and the jaywalker becomes physical prompting an arrest and the jaywalker resists, and the officer must use force?
Generally, officers today play these types of scenarios out in their heads before taking action. They know that the media headlines will read: “Man Beaten and Arrested by Police for Jaywalking.” The fact, that the jaywalker had turned into a felon the moment he physically resisted the officer does not matter. Even some city and department leaders will likely also follow this tack. These days, police critics, including some of the cops’ own leaders, believe that any situation that deteriorates into a use-of-force is automatically the officer’s fault.
The Times article points to some “sharp disagreement” among American law enforcement officials over the credence of the “Ferguson effect” [Officer Darren Wilson lost his job despite having done his job properly—even admirably]. Any law enforcement official that denies this current anti-police environment is having an effect on cops has not been on the streets for a very long time. He or she has not been talking to the rank and file in their departments—or, their cops are afraid to tell them the truth when asked out of fear of retribution for speaking honestly about the damage being done to the cops by the anti-police social justices.
According to the article, the “top levels” of the Justice Department disagree with Comey’s views. Well, what a surprise—not! The “top levels” of Obama’s Department of Justice are among those most responsible for exacerbating the assault on America’s cops that we’re experiencing today. Comey should be commended for defying the anti-cop juggernaut and lending credibility to an important issue. People need to be reminded that there is almost always a delay between cause and affect in law enforcement trends. However, anyone who puts themselves, honestly, in a cop’s shoes will see that logic dictates that today’s officers have no choice but to consider the ramifications of even the simplest self-initiated enforcement actions.