By JASON L. RILEY
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
MONDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2014
A grand jury found no reason to charge Darren Wilson in the Ferguson, Mo., shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown, but that won’t stop President Obama from pretending that the white police officer did something wrong.
On Monday, the White House pledged $263 million in new federal funding for 50,000 body cameras, additional police training and outreach efforts designed to build trust between police departments and minority communities.
“The president and his administration are very focused on the underlying issues that have been uncovered in a pretty raw way in Ferguson,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. But if the president was really focused on “underlying issues,” he’d be leading a national conversation about the violent anti-social behavior in poor black neighborhoods that better explains the police presence. Instead, Mr. Obama seems much more focused on furthering an anti-cop media narrative that aligns with a liberal political narrative and maintains that black America’s failures are the fault of others.
The Sunday talk shows were chock-full of commentators making excuses for black criminality—be it Brown’s or that of “protesters”—and it usually boiled down to a critique of either the makeup or methods of police departments. Everyone in America now knows that Ferguson is two-thirds black and that only three out of 53 police officers in the city matched that description at the time of the shooting. But before we make racially representative police forces a priority, shouldn’t we have some evidence that this likely will result in safer communities and better relations between law enforcement and residents.
A Washington Post story earlier this year noted that “there is hardly any research at all on whether racial disparities exist between officers when they use force” and that there’s “no conclusive evidence to show that white and black police officers treat suspects differently—if anything, some of the studies show that black officers can be harder on black criminal suspects.”
The Post also cited some relevant polling data. “In Washington D.C., according to a 2011 Washington Post poll, the police department got a relatively low 60% rating from black residents, despite the fact that the force is highly integrated,” said the paper. “The New York Police Department’s demographics are close to those of the rest of the city, but a Quinnipiac poll from 2014 found that only 54% of black residents approved of its performance. The Detroit police department is so dominated by African Americans that it’s been sued for discrimination against whites, and yet only 18% of black Wayne County residents approved of its work in 2009.��
And then there’s the fact that black crime was spiking in the 1970s and 1980s when black mayors and police chiefs ran some of our most violent large cities—including Baltimore, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia. The available evidence suggests that the racial makeup of law enforcement matters more to people who want to down play bad behavior than it does to people engaging in it.