Studies Give Some Credence to The “Ferguson Effect”

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Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute has promoted the idea of the “Ferguson effect,” that amid all the post-Ferguson concern about police behavior, officers stayed in their cars instead of being proactive and crime bounced back up. Liberals dispute that, and conspicuously lacking until now has been reliable social science on the issue, writes sociologist Neil Gross of Colby College in the New York Times. Two recent studies are worth noting:

Researchers Stephen Morgan and Joel Pally tracked reported crimes and arrests in Baltimore from before the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown until after the 2015 Baltimore protests over the death in police custody of Freddie Gray. Indeed, arrests dropped and crime increased .It is possible that arrests declined because officers were overwhelmed by the number of cases, and that leads dried up as community cooperation dwindled. It is also possible that months of reduced police activity contributed to the surge in violence and property crimes.  Stephen Rushin, a legal scholar, and Griffin Edwards, an economist, examine what happens to local crime rates when police departments become subject to federal oversight and reform for violating civil rights. When departments were required to alter their policies, signifying stronger public concern, crime was higher temporarily and officers spoke of working in a low-morale environment.

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