The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Events on the Ground

I have to believe that at least some Democrats diasgree with the leftist narrative that demands "defunding (or abolishing) the police." And there are probably a few who believe that the claim of  "systemic racism" throughout all police departments is abject nonsense, not to mention antithetical to the safety and security of all cities and the communities that live in them. But you'd never know that as Democrat leaders remain largely silent on the subject in order to avoid alienating their hard-left base.

For a party that told us repeatedly over the past three months that they are guided by data and science, it's remarkable how little they actually know or care about data and science (related either to COVID-19 or the recent protests associated with police violence against people of color).

The College Fix reports on Harvard Economics Professor, Roland Fryer, whose research indicates that defunding the police is exactly the wrong strategy for those who are concerned about violence in the black community. An African American researcher, Fryer, created controversy in 2016 after he evaluated 15 years of police-involved shootings and found:
In officer-involved shootings in these cities, officers were more likely to fire their weapons without having first been attacked when the suspects were white. Black and white civilians involved in police shootings were equally likely to have been carrying a weapon. Both of these results undercut the idea that the police wield lethal force with racial bias.
Oh my. That's not the narrative we've been hearing. The Dems' trained hamsters in the mainstream media are either too lazy, too stupid, or too ideological to conduct their own research on the subject. Better to parrot the BLM activists who have defined the current narrative.

Fryer's current research is also controversial. The College Fix reports:
[Fryer's] new research is similarly controversial in the media. In a Manhattan Institute video late last month, Fryer exclaimed that he encountered an “absolute refusal to grapple with the data” from the media and “insistence” that he should not publicize it.

Referring to a reporter whom he showed the research, Fryer told The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley: “I thought the person might sit with the numbers for a bit and go, ‘Damn, a thousand lives. That’s a lot.’”

... Fryer gave The Fix a series of recommendations on how to make proactive policing safer and more consistent, from better financial incentives around data collection to investing in new nonlethal technologies.

His “rigorous” use of data aims to increase opportunity within “historically disadvantaged” groups, he said in the interview. It is now a matter of “whether we have courage to do something real about it.”

Police pullback triples the lynching deaths in ‘the most gruesome years’

Fryer and Harvard doctoral student Tanaya Devi studied “Pattern-or-Practice” investigations into viral incidents of alleged police brutality that involved a black person who died. Each reviewed video of these incidents had received at least 2 million views at the time of the study.

“Pattern-or-Practice” investigations are used by federal and state governments to mitigate unconstitutional police activity including, but not limited to, excessive force and racial bias.

According to the Harvard scholars’ working paper on the impact of these investigations into police activity on homicide and crime rates, published in early June, the investigations resulted in “almost 900 excess homicides and almost 34,000 excess felonies.”

This spike in the crime rate occurred over the course of two years in the five cities where those deaths and viral incidents occurred: Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Laquan McDonald in Chicago, Timothy Thomas in Cincinnati, Tyisha Miller in Riverside, California, and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

While the underlying cause of this dramatic spike is unknown, Fryer and Devi hypothesize that it is caused by a substantial decrease in proactive police activity.
This kind of research is necessary, but even without it, a rudimentary knowledge of how incentives and disincentives affect human behavior indicates that if police officers are concerned that any proactive contact with the public might lead to disciplinary action or worse, they will avoid proactive contact and only respond to 911 calls after crimes have already been committed. That means more—not less—crime perpetrated against the black community. But hey, at least the BLM narrative will remain intact, even if events on the ground go to hell.


Holman Jenkins notes that geography, not racism itself, has more to do with violence against African Americans that anything perpetrated by even the worst of police officers (who should be removed from their jobs). He writes:
Starting in the 1980s, researchers identified 880 census tracts (out of 56,000) where social disorder made a law-abiding life difficult. About two million people, including many who are not black, lived in such places in 2005. So, except in the media and popular culture, and perhaps in the minds of police officers, these neighborhoods hardly represent the experience of 41 million African-Americans.

Their residents also overwhelmingly want out. Unfortunately, the thrust of public policy in recent decades has been to keep them in place, partly because doing so maintains some of the safest seats in American politics. Among the unhelpful gestures: elite opposition to charter schools, high marginal tax rates on people moving from welfare to work, and housing subsidies tied to downtrodden and jobless neighborhoods. Now a noisy sliver has taken up the chant “defund the police,” as if doing so wouldn’t leave these neighborhoods even less protected while suburban communities and private enclaves double down on security spending ...

Zach Goldberg of Georgia State University, who developed much of the data, coined the ironic label “America’s white saviors” for these activists ...

The charge of “systemic racism” is their obsession. Using the word rightly, however, “systemic” in America has been our attempt to protect individual rights against the amoral chaos of nature, including human nature, from which all kinds of racial and other irrational hatreds emerge. This may be a losing battle in the long run—nature will prevail, civilization won’t. But in the meantime we could help more people escape bad neighborhoods in favor of places where the law actually protects and supports their quest for a better life.
It is truly ironic that "America's white saviors" propose "solutions" that do far more harm than good, hurting the very people who need assistance to escape from lives riddled by crime and suffocated by dependency. But then again, if those people did escape, where would that leave "America's white saviors"?