Local leaders cite 'Ferguson effect' in rise of crime, decrease - KMOV.com

Local leaders cite 'Ferguson effect' in rise of crime, decrease in arrests

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Mayor Slay and Chief Dotson during a presser after 6 are killed in the matter of 13 hours in St. Louis. By Shawn Campbell Mayor Slay and Chief Dotson during a presser after 6 are killed in the matter of 13 hours in St. Louis. By Shawn Campbell

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- Seven homicides in 24 hours is a staggering number for any city, and on Thursday, Mayor Francis Slay and Police Chief Sam Dotson pointed to what's known as "the Ferguson effect" as a contributing factor to St. Louis' crime problem.

"Arrests went down because police officers were tasked with many other jobs,” Dotson said.  Both the mayor and chief say the riots drew the city's finite resources away from daily crime fighting.

Not only did arrests go down after Ferguson broke, but crime went up.

“Life has changed in the St. Louis region and I think throughout the entire country since Ferguson," Slay proclaimed.

“It would be hard to argue that Ferguson didn't have some sort of effect," said Remy Cross, a professor of criminology and sociology at Webster University. “It stretched their resources and that sort of effect does have an overall repercussion in the crime rate and the ability to respond to these other areas."

Cross says criminals notice when there is a lack of police in an area for an extended period of time and it will take time for crime rates to return to where they were before Ferguson.

“Crime isn't a faucet where you turn it on, turn it off,” Cross explained.  “Where you apply police to the area crime instantly ceases."

While Cross believes the Ferguson effect impacts crime, he suspects it’s not the only reason crime was up and arrests were down. “It may be that there was some other trend going on, but there was a Ferguson effect there.”

“I don't think the Ferguson situation in any way helps, but to say that gun violence is a result of Ferguson is really false,” St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce said, adding that she doesn’t buy into the Ferguson effect.

Joyce told News 4 last week that there was a spike in violent gun crimes in the spring of 2014, well before Ferguson.

"We had that problem before,” Joyce added. “It's getting worse.  The house is on fire; we have to do something about it."

Doctor cross says the other big challenge for the city us regaining the trust of the people.  That trust, he said, is vital because policing works best with the full support and buy-in of the community.

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