An anti-law enforcement backlash in the wake of deadly police encounters may be helping fuel a spike in violent crime, according to FBI chief James Comey.
In a speech at the University of Chicago Law School Friday, the agency's director weighed in on the so-called Ferguson effect
that supposedly makes police less aggressive and criminals more so, the New York Times reports.
"I don't know whether that explains it entirely, but I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind that has blown through American law enforcement over the last year," Comey said.
The extra scrutiny and criticism of police comes in the wake of fatal encounters in Ferguson, Mo., Cleveland, New York
According to the Times, Comey said he's been told officers who normally would stop to question suspicious people are deciding instead to stay in their patrol cars, worried their encounters will wind up on a cell phone video.
"I've been told about by a senior police leader who urged his force to remember that their political leadership has no tolerance for a viral video," Comey said.
He said, however, there's no data to back up his assertion, and that it may be just one of many factors – including cheaper drugs and more criminals being released from prison – at the core of the crime rise, the Times reports.
"Lives are saved when those potential killers are confronted by a police officer, a strong police presence and actual, honest-to-goodness, up-close 'What are you guys doing on this corner at 1 o'clock in the morning' policing,'" he said.
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