Thursday, February 25, 2016

Ferguson Effect, Only Where It Matters

A virulent anti-cop protest movement dedicated to the proposition that murderous, racist cops are the biggest threat facing young black men today will have its biggest impact on policing in black neighborhoods. It is in these neighborhoods that cops will face the most hostility from residents steeped in the Black Lives Matter ideology and where cops will most worry that, if an encounter with a civilian goes awry, they will become the latest racist officer-of-the-week on CNN. It is in black neighborhoods, in other words, where proactive policing—making pedestrian stops, enforcing quality-of-life public order laws—will be most inhibited. And given the already high rates of violent crime in black neighborhoods, any drop-off in policing is going to unleash even more crime, since it is in these high-crime neighborhoods where informal social controls have most disintegrated and where cops alone stand between law-abiding residents and anarchy. Even if the Black Lives Matter movement inhibited proactive policing uniformly in cities across the country, a place like Scottsdale, Arizona, say, will suffer less of an impact if cops back off, because the police are not as essential there to maintaining order as they are in Baltimore and St. Louis.

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