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June 23rd, 2017

Insight

The Farcical Ferguson Report

Larry Elder

By Larry Elder

Published March 12, 2015

The NBA consists of 76 percent black players. But blacks are just 13 percent of the country. Clearly, the league engages in racial discrimination against whites. Silly, right? Well, this is exactly what the sleight-of-hand Department of Justice pulled off to find that the Ferguson Police Department engages in "implicit and explicit racial bias"!

The report insults anybody who's ever studied the statistics ?- or logic.

The 105-page report concludes: "Ferguson's law enforcement practices are shaped by the City's focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs. This emphasis on revenue has compromised the institutional character of Ferguson's police department, contributing to a pattern of unconstitutional policing, and has also shaped its municipal court, leading to procedures that raise due process concerns and inflict unnecessary harm on members of the Ferguson community. Further, Ferguson's police and municipal court practices both reflect and exacerbate existing racial bias, including racial stereotypes. Ferguson's own data establish clear racial disparities that adversely impact African Americans. The evidence shows that discriminatory intent is part of the reason for these disparities. Over time, Ferguson's police and municipal court practices have sown deep mistrust between parts of the community and the police department, undermining law enforcement legitimacy among African Americans in particular."

The Washington Post immediately put out an article headlined "The 12 key highlights from the DOJ's scathing Ferguson report." Per the Post, the "scathing" statistic first listed is this: Ferguson is 67 percent black, but blacks comprised 85 percent of the traffic stops and 93 percent of the arrests. Incontrovertible proof that the Ferguson PD engages in institutional racism!

Reporters, in describing the Ferguson report, used adjectives that include "shocking," "stunning" and "eye-popping."

But if Ferguson's numbers are "eye-popping," what adjective applies to the New York City Police Department. New York City is 25 percent black. However, of the traffic stops, blacks comprise 55 percent. The statistical "gap" is 30 points. In Ferguson, as stated, the black population is 67 percent, but 85 percent of the traffic stops. The statistical "gap" is 18 points — far smaller than New York's 30-point "gap."

Why aren't Messrs. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Eric Holder marching on Times Square?

The answer is that the liberal former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who governed for 12 years, defends the aggressive policing of the NYPD — and the resulting "statistical disparities." Bloomberg says: "Unlike many cities, where wealthy areas get special treatment, the NYPD targets its manpower to the areas that suffer the highest crime levels. Ninety percent of all people killed in our city — and 90?percent of all those who commit the murders and other violent crimes — are black and Hispanic. It is shameful that so many elected officials and editorial writers have been largely silent on these facts.

"Instead, they have argued that police stops are discriminatory because they do not reflect the city's overall census numbers. By that flawed logic, our police officers would stop women as often as men and senior citizens as often as young people. To do so would be a colossal misdirection of resources and would take the core elements of police work — targeting high-crime neighborhoods and identifying suspects based on evidence — out of crime-fighting. ...

"That the proportion of stops generally reflects our crime numbers does not mean ... that the police are engaged in racial profiling; it means they are stopping people in those communities who fit descriptions of suspects or are engaged in suspicious activity."

The National Institute of Justice is the research and evaluation agency of the DOJ. In 2013, the NIJ published its study called "Race, Trust and Police Legitimacy." Unlike when responding to dispatch calls, police officers exercise more discretion when it comes to traffic stops. Thus, the supposedly "racial profiling" cops can have a field day when it comes to traffic stops, right?

But according to the NIJ, 3 out of 4 black drivers admit being stopped by police for a "legitimate reason." Blacks, compared to whites, were on average more likely to commit speeding or other traffic offenses. "Seatbelt usage," said the NIJ, "is chronically lower among black drivers. If a law enforcement agency aggressively enforces seatbelt violations, police will stop more black drivers." The NIJ conclusion? Numerical disparities result from "differences in offending" in addition to "differences in exposure to the police" and "differences in driving patterns."

President Obama, backed by research from the left and from the right, said, "Children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of school and 20 times more likely to end up in prison."

Richmond, Virginia, is a city of 214,000, with a black population of 50 percent. Eighty-six percent of black Richmond families are headed by a single parent. Of Ferguson's 67 percent black population, how many kids grew up in fatherless homes?

Whatever the answer, isn't this a far more relevant statistic?

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Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host.

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