Media outlets refuted Gov. Chris Christie's (R-NJ) claims that a lack of support from President Obama and increased scrutiny of police are leading to an increase in crime, explaining that “2015 is actually on pace to have near-record low levels of deadly violence against police.” The so-called “Ferguson Effect,” that Christie alluded to, is a right-wing media myth that has used flawed or cherry-picked data to link supposed increases in crime rates to the increased scrutiny of police following episodes of police brutality and has been roundly debunked by experts
Gov. Christie Blames President Obama And The Black Lives Matter Movement For Alleged Increase In Crime
Gov. Christie: Crime Is On The Rise Because President Obama “Does Not Support The Police ... [And] Justifies Black Lives Matter.” On the October 25 edition of CBS' Face the Nation, Gov. Christie claimed that there is increased “lawlessness” around the country because President Obama “does not support the police, he doesn't back up the police, he justifies Black Lives Matter” :
JOHN DICKERSON (HOST): Let me ask you this. Governor of New Jersey, you deal with police and crime issues. FBI Director James Comey said something interesting. He suggested that police across the country may be more reluctant to crack down on crime because of what's the so-called 'Ferguson Effect,' named after the Michael Brown murder in Ferguson, Missouri. Do you see any of that in New Jersey, that reticence, because it's now become such a politicized issue?
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ): I don't see it in New Jersey because the leader of New Jersey tells the police officers to go out and do their job without exception.
DICKERSON: And they're doing it?
CHRISTIE: And they are. You've seen it in a city like Camden, where in the last three years after we replaced the police department there John, and backed them up completely, all the political folks, murder rate is down 61% in the last three years in Camden. Yet you see murders up 19% in Chicago and 11% in New York, and the murder of a police officer. The problem is this. There's lawlessness in this country. The president encourages this lawlessness. He encourages it.
DICKERSON: Encourages it how?
CHRISTIE: By his own rhetoric. He does not support the police, he doesn't back up the police, he justifies Black Lives Matter.
DICKERSON: But Black Lives Matter shouldn't be justified at all?
CHRISTIE: Listen, I don't believe that that movement should be justified when they're calling for the murder of police officers, no.
DICKERSON: But they're not calling for the murder of police officers.
CHRISTIE: Sure they are. Sure they are. They've been chanting in the streets for the murder of police officers. [CBS, Face the Nation, 10/25/15]
Gov. Christie Doubled Down On Claim That Obama Doesn't “Support Police Officers” Or "Stand Up For Law Enforcement." During the October 28 CNBC Republican presidential debate, Gov. Christie said that “police officers are afraid to get out of their cars” and “enforce the law” because President Obama has not "[stood] up for law enforcement":
CHRIS CHRISTIE: John, I'll tell you something. You want to talk about moral authority. Let's talk about something that happened this week in the news. You know, the FBI director, the president's appointed FBI director has said this week that because of a lack of support from politicians like thePresident of the United States, that police officers are afraid to get out of their cars; that they're afraid to enforce the law. And he says, the president's appointee, that crime is going up because of this.
And when the president of the United States gets out to speak about it, does he support police officers? Does he stand up for law enforcement? No, he doesn't. I'll tell you this, the number one job of the president of the United States is to protect the safety and security of the American people. This president has failed, and when I'm in the Oval Office, police officers will know that they will have the support of the president of the United States. That's real moral authority that we need in the Oval Office. [Time, 10/28/15]
“No Evidence” : Media Debunk Christie's Claim That Obama Is To Blame For An Increase In Crime
Huffington Post: Statistics Show This Year Is One Of The Safest On Record For Police. Huffington Post reporter Julia Craven explained in an October 28 piece that “2015 is actually on pace to have near-record low levels of deadly violence against police,” and that, contrary to Christie's allegations, “it's not any more dangerous to be a police officer now than it has been in years past” :
Christie was referring to remarks by FBI Director James Comey, who attributed a spike in crime to the “Ferguson Effect,” which is the claim that rising murder rates in some U.S. cities are because police have been acting more cautiously since an officer fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last year.
The idea behind the allegation is that when law enforcement officers are afraid to do their jobs, the result is dead cops instead of safer streets. But statistics show it's not any more dangerous to be a police officer now than it has been in years past. 2015 is actually on pace to have near-record low levels of deadly violence against police. [Huffington Post, 10/28/15]
Vox: There Is “No Evidence To Support The Claim” That It's More Dangerous To Be A Cop Under The Obama Administration. In an October 28 article, Vox staff writer German Lopez countered Christie's claims about heightened violence against cops, explaining that there is “no evidence that reduced police activity has led to an increase in crime” and that “it's unclear if there even is a significant increase in crime so far this year” :
At the CNBC Republican debate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie suggested it's more dangerous to be a police officer under the Obama administration -- even though there's nothing to support this claim.
There's no sign that it's more dangerous to be a cop. The Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks police officer deaths, estimates that there have been 101 line-of-duty deaths among police this year -- down 5 percent from the same time period in 2014. Gunfire deaths in particular are at 31, down 18 percent from the same time period last year.
There's also no evidence that reduced police activity has led to an increase in crime, as Christie claimed. As criminal justice experts previously told me, it's unclear if there even is a significant increase in crime so far this year. And the historical data shows that crime rates have been at historic lows during the Obama administration.
But many conservatives, including Christie, have perpetuated the idea that the Obama administration has endangered police officers and the public. It's even a popular talking point on Fox News. Unfortunately for them, there's no evidence to support the claim. [Vox, 10/28/15]
The New Republic: Christie “Invented An Excuse To Parrot” A Groundless Theory. The New Republic reporter Steven Cohen explained that the allegation that “calls to end racialized police violence have effectively tied the hands of law enforcement and encouraged a corresponding spike in crime nationwide,” the so-called “Ferguson Effect... of course, does not exist,” adding that Christie's baseless attack “speaks only to the enduring power of racism in our politics” :
With no prompting from the moderators--a problem in and of itself--New Jersey Governor Chris Christie entered into a brief diatribe on the newest myth driving opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement. The Ferguson Effect hypothesis holds that calls to end racialized police violence have effectively tied the hands of law enforcement and encouraged a corresponding spike in crime nationwide. This spike, of course, does not exist--at least not that anyone has demonstrated. Nor is it true, as Christie went on to claim, that police officers have good reason to be “afraid to get out of their cars.”
But Christie's campaign has been stuck at the bottom of the polls for weeks now, and so Christie, a former U.S. attorney, has decided that, while the federal government has no business bothering itself with a bit of insider trading in the fantasy football industry, the imaginary wave of violent crime sweeping across our fair nation is a cause for great concern.
The politics of this decision are as obvious as they are shameful.
The fact that a U.S. governor--of a state with a significant black population--invented an excuse to parrot that theory in a nationally televised presidential debate speaks only to the enduring power of racism in our politics. [The New Republic, 10/28/15]
New York Times Editorial Board: Christie's Posturing “Is Like Something Straight Out Of Orwell.” The New York Times editorial board wrote on October 27 that “there is no data suggesting” the existence of the “Ferguson Effect,” adding that Christie's argument “plays into the right-wing view that holding the police to constitutional standards endangers the public” :
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey -- the increasingly desperate presidential candidate who is going nowhere fast -- took this posture on Sunday when he accused President Obama of encouraging “lawlessness” and violence against police officers by acknowledging that the country needed to take both police brutality and the “Black Lives Matter” protest movement seriously.
The president is absolutely right. This movement focuses on the irrefutable fact that black citizens are far more likely than whites to die at the hands of the police. The more the country ignores that truth, the greater the civic discord that will flow from it.
The recent remarks of James Comey, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, were not as racially poisonous as Mr. Christie's, but they were no less incendiary. In a speech at the University of Chicago Law School on Friday, Mr. Comey said that heightened scrutiny of police behavior -- and fear of appearing in “viral videos” -- was leading officers to avoid confrontations with suspects. This, he said, may have contributed to an increase in crime.
There is no data suggesting such an effect, and certainly Mr. Comey has none. But his suggestion plays into the right-wing view that holding the police to constitutional standards endangers the public. Justice Department officials who have made a top priority of prosecuting police departments for civil rights violations -- and who dispute that heightened scrutiny of the police drives up crime -- were understandably angry at Mr. Comey's speculations. [New York Times, 10/27/15]
Washington Post: Even The National Fraternal Order Of Police Doesn't Accept The “Ferguson Effect.” In an October 29 article, Washington Post reporter Abby Phillip explained that Christie's claim -- which was based on comments made by FBI Director James Comey -- has been contradicted by a national group representing law enforcement officers around the country":
Christie's description of Comey's comments isn't exactly what Comey said this week, but what he did say was enough for Christie to renew an avenue of attack on Obama and Clinton that has been lurking in the GOP presidential field: linking rising crime to Democratic politicians and their criticism of excessive force by law enforcement.
The White House disputed Comey's characterization, saying that there was no evidence that law enforcement officers are “shying away from fulfilling their responsibilities.”
But more critically for Christie, Comey's comments were even criticized by a national group representing law enforcement officers around the country.
“Time and time again [Comey] generalizes about a segment of the population that he knows nothing about,” said James O. Pasco Jr., executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police, told The Washington Post's Wesley Lowery. “He has never been a police officer.” [Washington Post, 10/29/15]