D.C.’s police chief talks about ‘Ferguson effect’

WASHINGTON — It’s not clear why violent crime has increased this year in many major U.S. cities, including the nation’s capital. But D.C.’s police chief says it’s not because officers are taking a hands-off approach to avoid controversy, which some call the “Ferguson effect.”

“All the data we have suggests exactly the opposite of the national rumor narrative (of) the ‘Ferguson effect’ and ‘police aren’t working,” said Chief Cathy Lanier, at violent crime summit involving leaders from many of the country’s biggest cities.

“Police are recovering more illegal firearms.  Police are working very, very hard,” she said. “There is something else that is creating this problem with this spike in violent crime, and it’s not police stepping back.  Certainly the numbers don’t suggest that, when we’re bringing in the number of guns that we are.”

The daylong summit, held Monday at the Newseum, involved the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

The group’s president, Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger, says, “Look at the crime rates nationally.  We’ve been very successful over the last 10, 15 years at bringing crime down.  But the question that all of us have to ask ourselves is: Did the tactics that we used to reduce crime alienate the community? And you can look at specific instances where that, in fact, has occurred.”

Manger says America’s police need to build trust among the people in their communities.

“The fact is that the police departments around the country need to do a better job at explaining to the public what we do, and why we do it.  We need to be strong in our messaging to the community, including the use of social media,” he said.

“Every segment of our community needs to feel like the police care about them.”

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