A new study released this week finds no evidence of a widespread surge in total, violent or property crime across large U.S. cities in the aftermath of the highly publicized police shooting of Ferguson, Missouri native Michael Brown. But the research does show the overall rate of robberies has increased, as has the murder rate in certain cities.
University of South Carolina criminology professor Scott Wolfe was part of the team that conducted the study. “What we found primarily was that there is no systematic U.S. wide increase or change at all in violent or property crimes,” Wolfe told South Carolina Radio Network.
“The important thing is we’re hoping to communicate to the public, researchers, practitioners, is here’s finally some empirical evidence concerning the so called ‘Ferguson Effect’ as it relates to crime statistics,” Wolfe said.
The study tests the hypothesis that the shooting of Brown, a young black man, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri and a string of similar incidents across the country have led to increases in crime across the U.S., a phenomenon known as the “Ferguson Effect.” The idea behind the theory is that police are more hesitant to stop potential criminals out of fear they will be filmed and the footage taken out of context. Some law enforcement, criminal justice experts, commentators and policymakers have raised concern that rampant social media sharing of messages critical of law enforcement amplified the effect of the Ferguson shooting.
Researchers analyzed monthly crime data from 81 large U.S. cities the year before and year after the events in Ferguson on Aug. 9, 2014.
Specifically, some have argued that social media sharing caused police not to intervene in certain criminal settings for fear of criticism or lawsuits and also led to a widespread mistrust of police. However, the finding that crime
Wolfe conducted the study with David Pyrooz, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder; Scott Decker, foundation professor of criminology and criminal justice at Arizona State University; and John Shjarback of the department of criminal justice at the University of Texas at El Paso.