March 28, 2018

Chicago Tribune Helps ACLU Deflect Blame For City’s 2016 Murder Spike

Monday, University of Utah Professors Paul G. Cassell and Richard Fowles published a study primarily blaming the 58 percent murder spike in the City of Chicago in 2016 — to 754 from 480 in 2015 — on a steep decline in police “stop and frisks.” The 2016 “stop and frisk” decline occurred because of an agreement the City made with the American Civil Liberties Union designed, according to the Chicago Tribune, ”to curb racial profiling and other unconstitutional practices.” The Trib claimed that “experts differ” with the two Utah professors, but their best alternative explanation only adds further support for the belief that 2016′s murder spike occurred because of what can be described as “The Ferguson Effect” on steroids.

Everyone agrees that “an ACLU consent decree triggered a sharp reduction in stop and frisks by the Chicago Police Department.” The Tribune reports that “street stops plummeted, to about 100,000 for all of 2016, an 82 percent drop from about 600,000 in 2015.”

The ACLU is proud of the “stop and frisk” decline. But in an effort to avoid being blamed for its consequences, popularly known locally as “the ACLU effect,” the group is instead blaming sharp 2016 increases in murders and shootings on the city’s handling of the death of Laquan McDonald.

McDonald was killed by a Chicago cop in October 2014. Video of the incident involved was not released until November 2015, seven months after the city unilaterally “settled” with his family, which hadn’t even filed a lawsuit, for $5 million.

This is where a serious logic fail comes into play.

You see, per the Trib:

Some crime experts felt that the fallout over the McDonald video caused officers, fearful of becoming the next viral video, to pull back on their aggressiveness, which emboldened criminals to take advantage of the vacuum.

… “The McDonald shooting was not among the variables considered” by the professors, because” … (they claimed) there was no way to quantify its impact.”

If one concedes the McDonald shooting as a factor, there are two reasons why Chicago cops have “pull(ed) back on their aggressiveness”: The McDonald fallout and the “stop and frisk” agreement, which had the following impact:

… officers began filling out the more detailed forms at the start of 2016.

… officers complained about how much longer the paperwork took to fill out, keeping them from their street duties. All the questions also increased their anxiety about being second-guessed on whom they stopped and whether the stops were legally justified. As a result, the number of street stops plummeted.

Both “the ACLU effect” and “the McDonald effect” have led to an extreme version of the “Ferguson Effect” in the Windy City. The “Ferguson Effect” posits that “a more hands-off approach by officers” in the wake of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 has led to “a spike in some localized crime rates.”

Of course it has — especially in Chicago.

Cross-posted, with possible revisions, at


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