Baton Rouge Joins Long List of Cities Seeing Drop in Proactive Policing

Baltimore also saw a drop in proactive policing after the malicious prosecution of innocent officers.

Baltimore also saw a drop in proactive policing after the malicious prosecution of innocent officers.

Baton Rouge Joins Long List of Cities Seeing Drop in Proactive Policing

Baton Rouge, Louisiana is seeing a stark decline in proactive policing, according to a crime analyst on the economist blog FiveThirtyEight.

Following the shootings of Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minnesota, the law enforcement community saw the worst acts of violence against police officers in decades. On July 7, five Dallas police officers were assassinated in an ambush during a protest against police brutality. Ten days later, three police officers were killed in an ambush in Baton Rouge while responding to a call.

After these events, there is now a decline in proactive policing when it would seem that more, not less, is needed. Part of the reason is no doubt that most police departments are stretched thin after violent encounters and the subsequent protests, but it could also be because the anti-police culture propagates after these shootings.

FBI Director James Comey spoke out in 2015 calling it ‘The Ferguson Effect.’ The Ferguson effect is the proposed idea that increased scrutiny of police has led to an increased murder rate in major US cities. It suggests that police have a less vigorous enforcement in situations that might lead to backlash.

Comey stated, “There’s a perception that police are less likely to do the marginal addition policing that suppresses crime.. the getting out of your car at two in the morning and saying to a group of guys, ‘What are you doing here?’”

Baton Rouge seems to be feeling the effects with a noticeable decline in narcotics enforcement. Baton Rouge provides an open data portal that provides information on more than 27,000 narcotics offenses from 2011 to present.

Narcotics enforcement is a good indicator of how much proactive police work is going on. Drug addicts tend not to report themselves or their dealers to police; they are generally only caught by proactive activity or from an unrelated arrest.

There was a clear and visible change to narcotics enforcement after the shooting of Alton Sterling. Baton Rouge Police Department averaged 94 narcotics offenses per week from 2011 through 2016. In the seven days after the death of Alton Sterling there were only 22 reported narcotics offenses.

Ironically, a drop in proactive policing often shows as a drop in overall crime to somebody who wants to misinterpret the data. Fewer unreported criminals being caught means fewer crime stats in the records.

Baton Rouge is just one city of a long list of cities that are seeing a decline in proactive enforcement. Cities like Chicago, Baltimore, St. Louis, and New York are also on the list. It’s not a far stretch of the imagination to understand why this is happening. The political pressure on some departments, like Baltimore, leaves innocent officers punished for doing their jobs. The possibility of a simple stop turning into a violent encounter, and the possibility of that encounter having a negative effect on an officer’s career, has brought about a more cautious approach to police work. The fear of reprisal in the law enforcement community has risen and is now having a noticeable effect on the deterrence of crime.

For those that would be quick to blame the police in this matter I would ask you to place yourself in the shoes of the men and women who patrol the streets of your community every hour of every day. What if it was your career on the line? What if that random stop at one in the morning turns violent? What if you did everything you were supposed to but were still crucified for it? This trend must be stopped and it starts with you. It starts with people who are willing to wait for the facts and not buy into the harmful divisive rhetoric reported by the mainstream media.

Let your local police officers know that you support them, and help keep your community a safe place to live.