Doesn’t Seem Like There Was A Ferguson Effect

Probably should have lead with “Still doesn’t…” While we’ve dealt with the supposed Ferguson Effect (which appears to be a Chicago and three months in D.C. effect as much as anything else) before, there’s now a study which looked at the consequences of decreased police activity (boldface mine; edited out section headings):

This study explored whether police departments have engaged in “de-policing”—withdrawal from active police work—in response to unprecedented levels of negative attention, as well as the correlates of changes in police behavior.

Using data from 118 of the 121 police departments serving jurisdictions over 5000 residents in Missouri, we examined changes in both the quantity (rates of vehicle/traffic stops, searches, and arrests) and quality (“hit rates” from searches) of policing from 2014 to 2015 and whether de-policing corresponded with year-over-year changes in crime rates.

The findings revealed a − 0.11 standardized change in stops (around 67,000 fewer stops in 2015 than 2014) and a 0.17 standardized change in hit rates (nearly 2 percentage points). Multivariate models indicated that departments serving larger African-American populations conducted fewer stops (β = − 0.44), searches (β = − 0.37), and arrests (β = − 0.27) in 2015 compared to 2014, although race was unrelated to changes in hit rates. Changes in police behavior had no appreciable effect on total, violent, or property crime rates.

As the kids used to say, BOOM. I have no idea why homicide is surging in Chicago, but, in D.C., it was a combination of increased gun violence and hardcore, repeat gun crime offenders getting back out on the street.

To the extent D.C. had a murder problem, it was as much as a sentencing/courts problem, not a policing problem. But that might have nothing to do with Chicago or Charlotte (which, as a recent Brennan Center report notes, drove the recent increase in homicides nationally).

But it really doesn’t seem to be a Ferguson Effect.

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