The Non-Existent Ferguson Effect: The D.C. Edition

I’m old enough to remember when people talked about a supposed ‘Ferguson effect’–crime was rising since police were afraid of being viewed as overly aggressive. And then there’s the reality in Washington, D.C. (boldface mine):

But is there a “Ferguson effect” at play in Washington? A glance at crime statistics from the same weekend in 2014 says not. According to police statistics from last weekend, the District recorded ten robberies at gunpoint, 13 assaults with a deadly weapon excluding guns, 15 burglaries, 110 thefts, and 18 stolen vehicles. Between June 6 and 8, 2014, DC experienced 16 robberies at gunpoint, 21 assaults with a deadly weapon excluding guns, 24 burglaries, and 26 stolen vehicles. There were also two fewer incidents of sexual abuse reported last weekend compared to a year earlier.

The District did record increases in reports of robberies committed without a gun (26, up from 15), assaults using a gun (11, up from seven), and thefts from vehicles (113, up from 95), in addition to the Sunday-night slaying of Santos Ventura. (Authorities have charged 70-year-old Manuel Antonio Ramos with first-degree murder in Ventura’s death.)

Overall, though, the number of violent crimes recorded last weekend was the same as a year ago—64—and the number of property crimes actually dropped to 256 incidents.

If one is going to argue the Ferguson effect is real, then it would appear it tends to lower violent crime (in reality, it doesn’t appear this is a meaningful shift, one way or the other). It’s also worth noting that the murder alluded to in the story was a domestic dispute. Yes, dead is dead (a poet I am), but it hardly means the neighborhood is unsafe once you walk out your front door*.

*That some people–usually women and children–are safer outside of their homes than in them is disgusting, but typically isn’t the kind of street violence people worry about (though they should).

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