The Ferguson Effect

The FBI Director and President have been at odds over the last few weeks on whether there is a Ferguson Effect — police not doing their jobs because of so much criticism and scrutiny. A recent study suggests the key factor is how officers feel they are treated within their own agencies — yet another example of the inside-out approach pioneered in Madison by David Couper, and further evidence of the crucial role played by police supervisors and leaders, especially in difficult times.


5 Responses to “The Ferguson Effect”

  1. Ashley Says:

    Gary, you’re absolutely right that Chief Couper led the way in this area decades ago. However, it’s disappointing to see how many contemporary chiefs fail to grasp that how they treat their cops has a significant effect on how their cops treat the community.

    Also, from my perspective, there seems to be a degree of misunderstanding regarding the Director’s comments. I don’t think he’s suggesting that cops will fail to do their jobs in non-discretionary situations, particularly where violent crime is concerned. However, I believe he’s acknowledging that the steady stream of media misinformation (which may or may not have been deliberate) and activist hostility (which was clearly intentional) over the last 14 months or so has been discouraging to line officers, and may have resulted in less proactive policing. Given the circumstances, I think he’s being realistic.

    Over the last several years, I’ve done a fair amount of outreach work, primarily through the National Coalition-Building Institute’s Cops and Community program. One key aspect of that program is the concept that both sides could be doing certain things better. In my opinion, it seems that in recent months, there has been a significant focus on police accountability, and rightly so, but without a corresponding examination of community responsibility.

  2. Gary Cordner Says:

    Good points Ashley. Also, it was good to see Chief Couper at the PERF Town Hall at the recently concluded IACP conference, and his blog post showed he was heartened by the level of discussion among the chiefs and others in attendance. For those who missed his post, see

  3. Gunther Says:

    “However, it’s disappointing to see how many contemporary chiefs fail to grasp that how they treat their cops has a significant effect on how their cops treat the community.”

    You think that the cops would then support other labor unions when the workers are getting mistreated by managers and CEOs; however, the cops want to have it both ways where they get fair treatment from their bosses but the rest of the American workforce is not entitle to anything.

    Even if the police bosses treated their workforce with respect, the cops turn on their bosses when they are told that they need to treat the rest of the community with respect. Again, many cops like to have it both ways.

  4. Mike Ward Says:

    I had the opportunity to hear Director Comey speak at the IACP Conference and I truly believe he was spot on with many of his remarks. I can only speak of what I personally see and that is that officers from large agencies with large problems are resorting to reactive policing only.

    We have a huge heroin problem in our area and most of the trafficking comes from a neighboring large city. If their police became proactive, stopped cars, did stop & frisk, or otherwise just did normal day in and day our policing like they used to do, the community would rise up against them. So why should they? The officers don’t live in those neighborhoods and neither do most of the city council, so where is the buy in? Community policing starts and ends at so many levels that unless everyone is working on the same field, it tends become just a talking point.

    I will say this about IACP; Chiefs/Officers wanted to hear Director Comey, the line to the busses to leave McCormick Place was longer than the line to hear the President speak.

  5. Gunther Says:

    Your answer is spot on Mr. Ward about cops and politicians not living in those neighborhoods you mention.

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