FBI Director James Comey on Monday attributed the rise in violent crime some major cities are suffering to less aggressive policing – a direct result of increased scrutiny by the public, he said.
The White House disagreed with the statement during a daily press briefing the same day, saying there is no evidence to support Comey’s assertion, The New York Times reported.
“In fact, you hear law enforcement leaders across the country indicating that that’s not what’s taking place,” said Josh Earnest, White House press secretary.
Comey is dealing with what many are calling the “Ferguson effect,” a criminal justice phenomenon brought on by the police killing of a man in Missouri last year.
The officer, a white man named Darren Wilson, shot and killed Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man, in August 2014, sparking protests met with what has largely been seen as excessive and militant force by police.
Protests turned to rioting, the two sometimes indistinguishable from one another. After a trial found forensic evidence proving Wilson was not at fault, a jury cleared him. A subsequent Department of Justice investigation found Wilson fired in self defense, but also determined the city of Ferguson practiced institutional racism toward black people.
The process weakened the public’s trust in law enforcement and in the justice system and set off a wave of protests felt across the country.
The DOJ began to help shore up community relations within police departments across the country and President Obama announced plans for a $75 million body camera program.
It’s unknown just how many people have been killed by police since the Ferguson incident, but one account has put the tally at more than 1,000.
And a few weeks ago further doubt was cast on the justice system when it was discovered that many agencies across the country weren’t reporting their fatal officer-involved shootings to the FBI.
An investigation conducted by the Guardian found that just 224 of 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the country made such reports to the federal government.
Because the program is voluntary, there’s no way to tell just how many of the records have been omitted.
Comey made similar remarks regarding increased police scrutiny since Ferguson on Friday during a speech at the University of Chicago Law School.
“I don’t know whether this explains it entirely, but I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind blowing through American law enforcement over the last year. And that wind is surely changing behavior.”