Is the ‘Ferguson effect’ real? Researcher has second thoughts | US news | The Guardian


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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21 Responses

  1. Avatar Christopher Carr says:

    Murders in New Orleans are way down this year, actually.Report

  2. Avatar greginak says:

    Flukes or blips are real increases…no duh…the question is not if they are increases, by definition any increase is, you know, an increase. The causality is the issue and whether those increases are statistical noise or driven by an underlying reason. So murder is up, thats bad. But most of the increase is do to a small subset of the 56 cities. How many of those cities saw decreases or flat line? Sorta gotta know that. Also gotta know a lot more about the data and obvious stuff the researcher likely is aware but doesn’t discuss here.Report

    • Avatar Christopher Carr says:

      I believe he means that the increases are statistically significant.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        But it takes time to see if those increases are just natural ups and downs or a change in a long term trend. If they go up for one year and down back to where they were, then what is the answer? If they continue to go up then that is one thing. Even then the causality is at issue since most of the rise is pinned a smallish subset of the data. I’d like to know about the other 40+ cities.Report

        • Avatar Christopher Carr says:

          I suppose that depends on your model, but I imagine we have enough crime data at this point to at least conclude that a change is real and not just a statistical artifact.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            We don’t. Crime data is really noisy. It goes up and down in the short term all the time, and sometimes single events can skew the data for months. You can’t do trend-lines in terms of “months” or “weeks”.

            I mean you can, but it’s meaningless.Report

            • Avatar Christopher Carr says:

              Is this know-nothingism, or some anti-statistics argument, a specific argument that crime cannot be statistically modeled, or do you have a problem in particular with this study?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I’d say this Chris: if the failure of cops to do their job outa fear of negative media exposure is actually the case – that is, that it’s a statistically measurable effect – then our baseline crime rates are determined, in part, by behaviors cops don’t want made public because doing so would reflect poorly on cops.

                Is that really the type of criminal justice system a rational, wealthy society wants to support via tax dollars and legislation?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                And actually, that last question should be viewed as rhetorical given that the US – God and Reason’s Anointed Land of Freedom!! – has the highest incarceration rate in the (first) world.

                Add: Apparently freedom has a cost…Report

  3. Avatar Road Scholar says:

    I would want to see better analysis on more and better data. Crime statistics tend to be pretty noisy and criminologists have only partial explanations at best for what drives longterm trends. It’s like the difference between long-term shifts in the climate vs daily weather reports, or long-term trends in the stock market vs daily movements in a particular equity.Report

  4. Avatar Stillwater says:

    I’d suggest two Ferguson Effects, one in which Ferguson plays a role in the po-lees being reluctant to DO THEIR JOBS outa fear of negative media exposure, and another in which certain people, as a result of Ferguson, have rejected the idea that the police are a positive instrument for maintaining law and order.

    How would we decide which is right?Report

  5. Avatar InMD says:

    The argument the police are making here would be laughed at in virtually any other context.

    ‘The system may still be overwhelmingly stacked in our favor but now that people can capture our misconduct on cell phones we can no longer do our job.’Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      Well, Wall Streeters and politicians…Report

    • The police would still be able to do their jobs if liberals would stop calling them racist.Report

    • Avatar notme says:

      The argument the police are making here would be laughed at in virtually any other context.

      Not really, this is the police version of work to the rule. They won’t do anymore than the minimum required of them and certainly wont take any extra risks.Report

      • Avatar InMD says:

        And they were doing more than was required of them and taking risks prior to the advent of cell phone videos and youtube? I mean, maybe as portrayed in Bruce Willis movies…

        If the law enforcement mantra for the last few decades had been ‘to obtain union benefits and protect ourselves at all costs’ that would be one thing. However you don’t get to talk up the thin blue line and self sacrifice in the face of danger then claim that the very limited transparency created by new technology is too intimidating.Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

      A lot of these arguments around the use of force seem to boil down to, “When the only consequence of an incorrect use of force decision was killing an innocent person, we were able to do our jobs effectively. Now that the consequences include review of our behavior and potential consequences for us, we’re much more hesitant.”

      That is not comforting at all.Report

      • Avatar InMD says:

        Truthfully the only big change the technology has resulted in is bad PR and a handful of prosections that probaby wouldnt have been possible otherwise. The law is still very deferential to the police and the bar for recovery is high. What the police are worried about is that over time these videos will result in erosion of support for the policies that shield them from accountability.Report