Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has offered a bizarre reason for his city’s murder rate. In a Washington Post article, Emanuel blamed violence on citizens capturing police brutality on cell phone cameras. Emanuel feels fear of bad publicity is hindering police departments. He made the comments at a meeting of 100 police chiefs and politicians convened by Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
“We have allowed our police department to get fetal and it is having a direct consequence,” said Emanuel. “They have pulled back from the ability to interdict… they don’t want to be a news story themselves, they don’t want their career ended early, and it’s having an impact.”
Emanuel is not the only person who believes this. Police chiefs from Chicago, St. Louis and New York were at the meeting and many expressed the same view. New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton called it the “YouTube” effect. He also said police officers were reticent to engage citizens since two New York cops were shot execution style by Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley, a career criminal suffering from mental illness. Before shooting the officers, Brinsley had tried to commit suicide and also shot and wounded his girlfriend.
“Marchers in New York, marchers in my city were chanting, ‘what do we want, dead cops, when do we want them, now.’ Well, they got them, two dead cops in December. The legacy of those two officers deaths’ have slowed down the momentum of what was started before it reached tidal wave proportions — really throwing the scales of justice out of balance,” Bratton told The Washington Post.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani took it one step further. He blamed President Barack Obama for stirring up an atmosphere of hate towards police officers.
However, The Post said the allegations were baseless. Reporter Aaron C. Davis said there was no evidence of police withdrawing from engaging with the public. Davis also said none of the police chiefs at the conference provided any statistical evidence to back up their claims.
While the police chiefs might believe that videotaping cops is leading to an increase in violence, many people in the Black community have a different opinion. Police violence has always gone on. The Black Panthers were created to monitor acts of violence committed by the Oakland Police Department. At the time, they followed police officers and watched their traffic stops. If the Panthers had cell phone cameras, they probably would have recorded the evidence. The New York Police Department has a long history of committing acts of violence against the Black community. The only thing that changed is now people have the technology to capture it and back up their claims.
By blaming the rising crime rate on videotaping, police chiefs and politicians are ignoring the real causes of urban violence, drugs, chronic unemployment, easy access to weapons, gangs and poverty. Even FBI Director James B. Comey disagreed with the police chiefs. He said there could be several reasons behind the rise in violent crime and it was hard to pin it on one single factor.
“Cities with nothing in common are seeing in the same degree and in the same time – dramatic increases in violence, especially homicides — does heroin explain that? I struggle with that… is it guns? Well, what’s changed with guns in the last nine months? Is it the criminal justice system?” he told The Washington Post. “I keep asking my staff, what has changed that would explain that this is happening in the first nine months of this year and all over the country?”