‘Ferguson Effect?’ Police arrests drop nationwide, but little agreement on why

The following is an excerpt from Just the News.

Cities across the country have reported a significant drop in police arrests in a trend that started as far back as 2014.

Los Angeles, St. Louis, San Antonio, AtlantaPhiladelphia and Ann Arbor, Michigan, are just some of the cities that have reported significant drops in police enforcement without an accompanying drop in serious crime.

The police enforcement trend also included a significant drop in parking and traffic violations.

Police and city officials from San Antonio, St. Louis, Atlanta and Philadelphia didn’t respond to emails seeking an explanation for the trend. The ACLU and Black Lives Matter did not respond either.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich in the state of Washington attributed the decline in enforcement to the political climate created by high-profile police incidents over the past eight years.

Knezovich cited the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, the ambush and killing of five police officers in Dallas in 2016 and more recently the death of George Floyd in 2020 as the primary reason for the decline in enforcement.

“The Ferguson Effect is a real thing. Police officers started to back away from enforcement,” Knezovich said. “You saw it across the nation. You wonder why you see less and less enforcement and more and more crime, it’s woke politicians and activists and the media have made it so. They wanted us to disengage.”

Knezovich called that environment for police in the U.S. “toxic.”

“They have made the environment so toxic that it is very difficult to enforce laws in the United States right now,” he said. “And we wonder why we in police enforcement started to disengage.”

Lex Steppling, national director of campaign and organizing for Los Angeles-based Dignity & Power Now, said the “Ferguson Effect” is a myth, adding that many communities didn’t trust police before Ferguson.

“What most everyone cares about is being safe. Do they [police] keep us safe? Police kill a lot of people. Police hurt a lot of people,” Steppling said.

“We are aware that police sometimes go on informal strikes when they don’t like the political climate they are in,” he said.

Steppling said fewer arrests are a good thing because more arrests just creates economic disparities.

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