Title: The War on Cops
Author: Heather Mac Donald
Publisher: Encounter Books
A wave of anti-police sentiment has swept the country. Cops have been assassinated in cold blood, anti-police riots have erupted in major cities, and sports players refuse to stand for the national anthem to protest what they claim are unjustified police shootings of black Americans.
“The statistics are clear, up and down the criminal justice system. There’s no dispute,” President Obama said about the presence of racism in law enforcement. Blacks in the U.S., he said, “were shot by police at more than twice the rate of whites” in 2014. In general, Obama said, blacks are “arrested at twice the rate of whites,” they are “30 percent more likely to be pulled over” by cops, and they, along with Hispanics, “make up only 30 percent of the general population [but] more than half of the incarcerated population.”
Are these statistics accurate? Are police departments throughout the country really infested with racism despite five decades of social indoctrination that racism is an unparalleled moral crime (even as all other values have become relative)?
Nonsense, argues Manhattan Institute fellow Heather Mac Donald in an important new book, The War in Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe. Mac Donald acknowledges that young black men are disproportionately targeted by the police, but there’s a simple explanation for this disparate treatment, she argues: They “commit homicide at nearly ten times the rate of young white and Hispanic males combined.” She notes that in a city like New York, blacks constitute “only 23 percent of the population but commit over 75 percent of all shootings…whites commit under 2 percent of all shootings…though they are 33 percent of the city’s population.” All in all, “[b]lack and Hispanic shootings together account for 98 percent of all illegal gunfire” in New York City.
These statistics are astonishing. Yet, Mac Donald points out, the mainstream media hardly ever reports them. Nor do they – or leftist activists – bother mentioning that nearly all black homicide victims are killed by fellow blacks, not racist whites. Nor do they mention that the chance of a police officer getting killed by a black is “18.5 times higher than the chance of an unarmed black getting killed by a cop.” Why this silence by the Left? Because, Mac Donald writes, these facts “don’t fit into the favored narrative of a white, racist America lethally oppressing blacks.”
If leftist activists really cared about black Americans, Mac Donald argues, they would champion the police. Thanks to law enforcement, she writes, “thousands of black men are alive today who would have been killed years ago” were it not for a revolution in policing launched by New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the 1990s. This revolution led to a 50 percent reduction in crime nationwide while New York’s murder rate decreased by a staggering 80 percent, thanks in part to a now controversial practice known as “stop and frisk.” “The vast majority of lives saved thanks to that falling homicide rate,” Mac Donald writes, “were black and Hispanic.”
The media would have us believe blacks detest the police despite this reduction in crime. Not true, claims Mac Donald. “Go to any police-and-community meeting in Brooklyn, the Bronx, or Harlem,” she writes, “and you will hear pleas such as the following: Teens are congregating on my stoop; can you please arrest them? SUVs are driving down the street at night with their stereos blaring; can’t you do something? People have been barbecuing on the pedestrian islands of Broadway; that’s illegal! The targets of these complaints may be black and Hispanic, but the people making the complaints, themselves black and Hispanic, don’t care. They just want orderly streets.”
Police officers, Mac Donald writes, “are the only people willing to put their lives on the line to protect innocent blacks from predation.” They deploy heavily in crime-laden black neighborhoods, not “out of malice,” but because they wish to stop crime before it occurs. That’s also why, Mac Donald writes, unjustified shootings generally take place in black neighborhoods. “[U]ntil the black crime rate comes down, police presence is going to be higher in black neighborhoods, increasing the chances that when police tactics go awry, they will have a black victim.”
Why is crime in black areas so high? No one really knows, but one possible factor, Mac Donald suggests, is the complete breakdown of the black family. Over 70 percent of black children currently are born to single mothers. In crime-infested Chicago, that number is 80 percent. Yet, one hears nary a peep from the Left about fatherless black homes (which, incidentally, exist in no small measure due to the welfare state). Instead leftists obsess about “racism” – real or imagined.
This obsession could be dismissed if it were consigned to a radical fringe. But it’s not, Mac Donald. It has infiltrated the highest rungs of government. President Obama has even gone so far to invite activists from the cop-hating group Black Lives Matter to the White House. And the federal government now routinely interferes in local law enforcement practices. One of the most infuriating chapters in The War on Cops describes the Justice Department forcing the LAPD to accept federal oversight – at a cost of $300 million and “350 officers [pulled] off the streets to meet the [oversight] decree’s mountainous paperwork requirements.”
Why is all this important? Because the anti-police rhetoric from the Left and mainstream media has emboldened criminals and dispirited police officers. Crime, as a result, has climbed.
As Mac Donald wrote two weeks ago in Wall Street Journal: “Last year’s 12% increase in homicides reported to the FBI is the largest one-year homicide increase in nearly half a century. … More police are being killed this year too. Gun murders of police officers are up 47% nationally through Oct. 21, compared with the same period the previous year. In Chicago gun assaults on officers are up 100%. In New York City attacks on officers are up 23%. In the last two weeks, four California officers have been deliberately murdered.”
FBI Director James Comey has argued that a “chill wind [is] blowing through American law enforcement.” Cops are now reluctant to stop, question, or arrest anyone unless absolutely necessary. Many now prefer to sit in their cars and wait for a crime to be committed – a return to the “reactive policing” of the pre-Giuliani era.
The last 20 years has seen “the biggest national crime drop in recorded history.” That drop, Mac Donald, argues is now in jeopardy. Unless the Left wants to see a return of the violence of the 1970s, they must stop demonizing the police. As matters stand today, they are “playing with fire.”