The White House disagreed with the assertion by FBI director James Comey, that additional scrutiny of law enforcement may have made police officers less aggressive, leading to a rise in violent crime in some cities, reports the New York Times. “The evidence we have seen so far doesn't support the contention that law enforcement officials are shirking their responsibilities,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. “In fact, you hear law enforcement leaders across the country indicating that that's not what's taking place.”
Comey said there might be many factors, like cheaper drugs and easier access to guns, that spawned an increase in crime. He was more convinced by the notion that officers were afraid to get out of their patrol cars and deal directly with people on the street because the officers were afraid their interactions would be caught on video. Comey's remarks angered Justice Department and White House officials, because they saw them as undermining the administration's criminal justice policies. Comey also appeared out of step with the administration over whether the imprisonment of thousands of criminals in the 1980s and 1990s could be called “mass incarceration.” He said these prosecutions “didn't happen 'en masse.' ” Appearing before the International Association of Chiefs of Police yesterday, Comey delivered nearly the same speech as he had on Friday, suggesting that crime might be on the rise in some cities because officers who fear criticism have scaled back their policing.