Tue. Dec 1st, 2020

The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Demonizing the police endangers everyone

4 min read

Protestors took to the streets around the country to protest police violence and demand reform or divestment from the police. | Koshu Kunii on Unsplash

By SHAWN FLEETWOOD

Staff Writer

The Ferguson effect has been widely criticized by scholars and activists. The editorial staff has opted to leave this article on our website as a reflection of what the writer was thinking at a particular moment in time.

Ever since the death of George Floyd, groups such as Black Lives Matter have continued to promote the narrative that there is a nationwide epidemic of police shooting innocent Black Americans. BLM and other politicians and activists have even called to defund the police. While these groups and individuals claim that this is to the benefit of Black lives, little do they realize that continuing to perpetuate these narratives and policies is hurting Black Americans the most.

Known as the “Ferguson Effect,” police disengage from proactive policing tactics out of fear of being labeled as racist. A 2016 study by the National Institute of Justice found that in 56 of America’s large cities there was a 17 percent increase in homicide from 2014 to 2015. One of the main plausible explanations for this increase was the Ferguson Effect. 

The Ferguson Effect most clearly impacts police officers. According to a survey by Pew Research, following recent high-profile fatal encounters between Black suspects and police officers, 76 percent of officers said they’re more reluctant to use force when appropriate and 72 percent of officers said they are more reluctant to stop and question suspicious individuals. The survey was conducted from May to August 2016.

If police are afraid to do their jobs because of outside denigration and aren’t given the resources they need to crack down on crime, Black Americans pay the highest price. There is no better example of this than in New York City. Following the death of George Floyd, the New York City Council slashed $1 billion from the New York Police Department’s budget. Coupled with the city’s recent bail reform laws and the disbanding of the NYPD’s plainclothes anti-crime unit, the results have been catastrophic.

In the month of June, New York City saw shooting incidents involving Black victims increase 177 percent from the same time period in 2019. In addition, the majority of victims killed in these shootings have been Black. No other racial group has been victimized by the increase in violence in New York City at anywhere near the same rate Black people have been since violent crime began surging in the city in mid-May, which only accelerated in the weeks following George Floyd’s police-custody death in Minneapolis.

And yet, when analyzing the data, the accusations of a nationwide epidemic of police shooting innocent Black Americans don’t hold weight. Currently, there are roughly 250 million white Americans in the country, versus roughly 44 million Black Americans. According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), police make roughly 10 million arrests each year. Roughly seven million of those arrested are white and roughly three million are Black. 

Out of that number, in 2019, there were 999 fatal police shootings, according to The Washington Post. Of those 999 shootings, 14 of them were of unarmed Black suspects, while 25 of them were of unarmed white suspects. When analyzing these cases, at least eight of the Black suspects were fleeing from the police, assaulting the officer, or resisting arrest. Likewise, of the 25 unarmed white suspects, 18 of them were fleeing from the police, assaulting the officer, or resisting arrest. Further details regarding these individual cases can be found in The Washington Post’s database.

Even then, some have argued that there is racial bias against Black Americans regarding police shootings because they represent roughly 13 percent of the U.S. population, while accounting for roughly 25 percent of all police shootings. However, these disparities are explained by the fact that Black people account for a disproportionate percentage of major crimes. For instance, in 2018, Black criminals committed roughly 54 percent of robberies, 53 percent of murders, and 34 percent of assaults, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). While violent crime does not give the police the automatic right to kill suspects, it increases the chance of an encounter between the police and perpetrators turning deadly.

This is evidenced in a study released by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which found that white officers were no more likely than Black or Hispanic officers to shoot minority suspects, and that it is a racial group’s rate of violent crime that determines police shootings, not the race of the officer. The study also went on to note that the more frequently officers encounter violent suspects from any given racial group, the higher chance there is that members of that racial group will be shot by a police officer.

More often than not, the majority of victims of these crimes are Black Americans. According to the FBI, the majority of homicide victims in the U.S. are Black. For instance, of the 14,123 murders in 2018, 7,407 were Black, compared to 6,088 who were white.

Further demonization of the police will only result in more of our brothers and sisters lying dead in the streets. At a time when 81 percent of Black Americans favor the same or a greater police presence in their communities, people who continue to berate the police with these grotesque smears are harming the very people they claim to care about. 

9 thoughts on “Demonizing the police endangers everyone

  1. White people make up 64% of the population and Black people make up 14% of the population. Please take into account demographics before posting this bias motive against BLM.

  2. An epidemic requires an outbreak and a time period. Racially-biased policing didn’t come out of nowhere and smack everyone in the face. It’s not new – it’s ingrained in the blood of this country.

    If defunding law enforcement is so threatening, then why are we not calling into question how the funding police DO get is spent on officers that can’t handle their responsibilities? No, not ALL officers disrespect the lives of minorities in this country, but the fact that any number DO and get to not only continue about their business, but continue their LIVES, is what this article could be about. The police are afraid? They’re scared of voices and change, while strapped down in protection and weaponry, which is something else this article could be about. Or, there’s several police brutality compilations completely devoid of race relations all over YouTube displaying inhumane conduct that should not be enacted on anybody, let alone BY anybody that’ll get paid to do it, which is something else this article could be about.

    A couple ten, hundred, thousand cops that’re bad at their job is enough to say you can’t trust the system they function for. That number should be zero. The system and its processes are messed up. If you can honestly say that it’s inappropriate to ‘demonize’ the policing in the US knowing that it’s not just Black people making a ruckus about Black people, but calling attention to the effects police have on EVERYONE, then you’re lacking acknowledgement of who and what the problem is here. And it’s definitely the overfunded system that’s okay with a relevant portion of its representatives being reckless with human lives.

    And please make sure you’re capitalizing ALL the B’s in every instance you write ‘Black’.

  3. Whoever approved this article for publishing needs to reconsider their choice. Law enforcement statistics are notoriously biased and every LE agency has had questionable practices when it comes to reporting on crime. Using LE stats is unreliable since the whole concept of law enforcement in America came from slavery and white supremacy. B&G has a reputation for posting disrespectful and misleading articles much like this one and this puts their credibility into question. Perhaps the most insulting thing is that this was clearly done to anger those who are calling to defund the police, as that is something that has come up recently. This isn’t journalism, it’s inciting anger. If you look at the author’s twitter he brags continuously about pissing off student bodies at Universities.

    Also, make sure you capitalize the B in Black. Take down this article.

  4. The author sounds ignorant and fails at appearing “unbiased” and seems to have recycled a June news article. To me this author lacks empathy. Disguised hate is not a UMW value.

  5. This dude actually quoted the “despite making up 13% of the population statistic” and the b&g okayed it. Holy hell you guys

  6. Thank you for having the courage to approach this very sensitive issue with an open mind.
    Our media have done a terrible job reporting on this issue, choosing to use sensationalism instead of facts and statistics.
    Politicians who see a wedge issue to exploit are also shamelessly engaged in an effort to raise people’s emotions instead of encouraging calm and a sober approach to real reforms which all sides could embrace.
    As a result, extremists have become empowered to engage in activity that has only exacerbated the problems in our cities, and further strained relations between the police and the people they are sworn to protect.

  7. I have read the above comments and wonder how old you all are that are responding? It seems to me that everyone has a right to an opinion. I am not approving or condoning this article, but seems to me that the comments are the perfect example of what is wrong with our country and what it has become. It seems to me that nowadays, if someone does not agree with your opinions or think the way you do, people are so nasty and rude about it. The right way to handle things is to respect that different people have different “viewpoints” and “opinions”. So I am sure if the article swayed the other way, no one would have had an issue with it or the paper would not have had any problem with printing it. The fact, the “editors” had to think twice about printing shows the bias of the newspaper. It is sad that when people don’t like what someone has to say, they get so angry. Why not put some of your own unbiased comments and facts down in words.

  8. This article was so good I think it just cured cancer. I’ve never seen such a well-articulated and fact-filled article on this website before. I can see why the editors wanted to delete it- they don’t want to break their pattern of leftist nonsense. How telling is it that there are dozens are articles making all kinds of nonsense claims on this site, but this factually correct article has a warning label attached? The fact that the editors discussed deleting a “viewpoints” article because they didn’t agree with the viewpoint demonstrates the small-mindedness of the staff. UMW has done a terrible job preparing students to enter the real world. They are so scared of other (and in this case correct) ideas that they want to close their eyes and go back to the warm embrace of ignorance. Well done Fleetwood. Not all heroes wear capes.

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