The efforts to explain reportedly increasing violence in America’s cities reveal sharply divergent views from Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey vs. unnamed officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois.
In a Chicago University Law School forum, Director Comey stated that the expanding gulf between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve can be traced to several factors, such as the surge in cheaper heroin, gun possession for illegal acts and smaller but highly territorial street gangs. There is apparently no disagreement about those alleged factors.
The disagreement comes with Director Comey’s belief that cellphone videos and the fact that they sometimes “go viral” on the internet have greatly increased police anxiety, to the point at which U. S. city crime has risen. According to Director Comey, officers feel they are under siege and are reluctant to even get out of their patrol cars to enforce the law. He spoke of discussions with police officers who claim that young people “taunt” them with cellphone cameras as soon as the officers step out of their cars. Director Comey called higher anxiety, widening gap and increased crime “The Ferguson Effect,” after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown and its aftermath. The now-infamous YouTube video associated with the Michael Brown shooting can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQuvhsohHJM
There are only rumors of disagreement and anger from the DOJ regarding about Director Comey’s remarks. However, ACLU of Illinois spokesman Ed Yohnka minced no words: “Police officers who respect civilians and the law will only enhance the reputation of their departments when recorded by civilians. And officers should be trained to conduct themselves with professionalism regardless of whether a camera is recording them.”
In addition, former New Orleans and Nashville police chief Ronal Serpas disagrees with Director Serpas’ assessment: “[E]very generation of policing has had to accept another form of monitoring of their behavior, and our profession has stood strong throughout that… And I do not think that police officers miss the opportunity, as a body, to be professional and noble and do the work they know they can do.”
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