The Ferguson Effect Something Something

Remember the conservative caterwauling about the supposed Ferguson Effect, in which police officers would be too afraid to arrest people, leading rampaging hordes? Or something. Well, in New York City, not so much (boldface mine):

It would have seemed unbelievable in 1990, when there were 2,245 killings in New York City, but as of Wednesday there have been just 286 in the city this year — the lowest since reliable records have been kept.

In fact, crime has fallen in New York City in each of the major felony categories — murder and manslaughter, rape, assault, robbery, burglary, grand larceny, and car thefts — to a total of 94,806 as of Sunday, well below the previous record low of 101,716 set last year.

If the trend holds just a few more days, this year’s homicide total will be under the city’s previous low of 333 in 2014, and crime will have declined for 27 straight years, to levels that police officials have said are the lowest since the 1950s. The numbers, when taken together, portray a city of 8.5 million people growing safer even as the police, under Mayor Bill de Blasio, use less deadly force, make fewer arrests and scale back controversial practices like stopping and frisking thousands of people on the streets….

The lower homicide numbers are still preliminary — and include one announced on Wednesday night — but they jibe with large drops in killings in major cities like Chicago and Detroit, while contrasting with sizable increases in killings in smaller cities like Charlotte and Baltimore.

The city today is a far cry from what it was when Mr. Bratton arrived in 1990 to become the head of the then-separate Transit Police. Not only were there 2,245 killings that year, but there were more than 527,000 major felony crimes and more than 5,000 people shot. Shootings have plunged to 774 so far this year, well below last year’s record low of 998. And for the first time, fewer than 1,000 people have been hurt by gunfire: 917 as of Sunday.

There are cities where murder rates have risen, but, overall, the Ferguson Effect doesn’t seem to have occurred, especially in New York City.

One almost feels bad for think tank conservatives whose gig is convincing people that cities are urban hellholes. Until you remember the harm this belief causes and the implicit racism underlying it.

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3 Responses to The Ferguson Effect Something Something

  1. Gingerbaker says:

    What is the cause of this drop in crime? Merely correlation to increased incarceration rate over the same period, or the effect of same? Right-wing think tanks don’t do real analysis anyway; they simply bolster viewpoints with cherry-picked data.

  2. kaleberg says:

    There are all sorts of theories about the drop in crime. There’s the end of leaded gasoline theory. There’s the crack / heroin epidemic burn out theory. There’s the law abiding to avoid arrest immigrant theory. There’s the Clinton boom coming at just the right time theory. There’s the legal abortion and birth control theory. There was the middle class returning to the city theory.

    The crime wave itself was an anomaly. It ran from the late-60s into the early 90s, 25-30 years. What caused it? I’ve heard all sorts of theories, some more scientific than others. Was it the baby boom? Was it “permissiveness”? Was it heroin and later cocaine? Was it the rise of the middle class? Was it the rise of the suburbs and abandonment of the cities?

    I’m guessing there were a number of drivers, but I haven’t seen a good analysis. I’m not even sure they’ve given the era a proper name.

  3. jonolan says:

    I think, if one looks more closely at all the surrounding data, one will find strong evidence to support the theory that the real “Ferguson Effect” is a major component in the drop in crime rates in many urban areas. Simply put, because the Black Community is monolithic in response (think of all the sympathetic riots that breakout across the nation over a single, local incident), they have been psychologically impacted by “Fergusons” and are simply not reporting the crimes to the police in the 1st place.

    So, there may well be a rise in various sorts of crimes but they’re not being reported and, hence, investigated.

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