Cops, Blacks, and Crime

Beware of people who claim to have simple answers to America's race and crime problems. And beware of the media, which make it seem like life is getting worse.


Claims about racist cops from groups like Black Lives Matter lead more people to fear and hate the police.

That's bad news for cops. It's also bad for black people who live in crime-ridden neighborhoods, says Heather Mac Donald, author of The War on Cops.

She points out that activist policing is what people in those neighborhoods need and want, because they are much less safe if fearful cops (or cops who just want to avoid a hateful experience—like being screamed at and called racist) stay in the car instead of questioning the young men hanging out on the corner.

Yes, says Mac Donald, it's true that police disproportionately stop blacks, but "violent crimes are disproportionately committed by blacks."

That's something you probably won't hear at a Black Lives Matter rally.

But Black Lives protesters also have a point: Some cops are sadistic, racist bullies.

Not many are, but with 765,000 police officers in America, if just 1 percent were racist, that would still leave 7,650 bullies with guns. For years, when officers said, "I had to use force; I had to shoot," Americans usually believed them. Now videos show that, in many cases, officers lied.

In addition, DNA evidence reveals that cops and prosecutors have locked up lots of innocent people—disproportionately poor people and blacks.

So there are good reasons for blacks to be angry.

The "war on cops" narrative is overblown, too. "War" means killing. The attack on officers in Dallas was despicable, but, even including those five deaths, it is still safer to be a cop today than in years past. According to FBI records, 2015 was one of the safest years ever recorded.

Crime is down, too. The media mislead us by dwelling on increases in cities like Chicago, but overall, crime continues to drop.

There was much more violence in the 1920s and '80s, when government stepped up its wars on liquor and drugs. That drove those businesses into the hands of criminals and increased confrontations with police. The number of police officers killed in 1930, the worst year of Prohibition, was nearly triple the number of police officers killed in 2014. Prohibition is a bigger threat than Black Lives Matter.

Of course, it's possible that crime will rise again. Few agree about why it dropped in the first place.

Maybe it's the increase in video cameras and cellphones that allow people to see and report crime. Some even credit the smoking bans that put smokers on the street where they keep an eye on things. Or looser gun laws—criminals now don't know whether a victim might be armed. And so on.

Heather Mac Donald says crime fell after computer-directed policing sent more cops to high-crime neighborhoods and officers started arresting people for "quality of life" crimes like public urination. Crime continued to fall because "tough on crime" laws put more criminals in jail and kept them there longer. Bad guys don't commit new crimes if they're in jail.

But how many people is it right to lock up? America now jails more than any other country. Almost 700 out of every 100,000 Americans are now in jail. In Germany, just 78 people out of 100,000 are. Are Americans so much more criminal?

"Yes," says Mac Donald, and America should jail more people. "We have a crime problem, not a prison problem. Only 3 percent of all people who commit a violent victimization or property crime end up in prison. You have to work very hard to end up in prison."

That may be true. But when 17 states cut imprisonment rates over the past decade, they experienced a decline in crime.

A big irony here is that despite the crime rate dropping—and indicators of racial accord such as intermarriage improving—more cops are being armed, armored and trained as if they are at war—with drugs and with protesters—and told they are victims of a "war on cops."

We should mourn both people killed by criminals and those unnecessarily killed by cops. But beware of people who claim to have simple answers to America's race problems and crime problems. And beware of the media, which make it seem like life is getting worse.

It isn't.


NEXT: Criticism Does Not Kill Cops

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The problem is not BLM. The problem is the local cops and the FBI who are spoiling for a new war as the Drug War dies down. As a result their conspirators in the law enforcement industries, such as Omar Mateen (private security) and Micah Johnson (Army reserves) are creating conflicts so they can say, “See, this is why you really need us.” The FBI is using a ‘friction’ strategy to foment war, a long held tradition in the organization, and it will only get worse now that hundreds of agents are no longer scouring Chelsea’s wedding plans for state secrets.

    Much of the black community is dependent upon the law enforcement industry and prison industrial complex. BLM is the younger generation of blacks, and they are no longer willing to sacrifice themselves upon the altar of their parents’ career ambitions. This is a good thing, even if it means that grandma is out of a job. Dallas Sheriff David Brown’s son David Brown is a cop-killer and killed by cops and is a victim of both mental illness indoctrination and drug propaganda – a prime example of the whole dynamic in a nutshell.

    Don’t blame BLM, don’t blame guns. Blame the FBI and militarized police who’ve held us hostage to the ‘supercriminal’ myth for way too long. Hitlary realized this, if a bit late. Her talk of gun control will fall flat. Trump is playing the ‘Law and order’ card and will have to learn his lesson the hard way. The nation has no appetite for recriminalization.

    1. My Co-Worker’s step-sister made $15200 the previous week. She gets paid on the laptop and moved in a $557000 condo. All she did was get blessed and apply the guide leaked on this web site. Browse this site.. This is what I do..
      Go here to this… http://www.trends88.com

      1. Excellent response.

  2. Hey! What’s u…
    *Slowly backs out of room*

    1. *joins the stampede*

    2. Yeah, this is the worst party ever.

  3. “… it’s true that police disproportionately stop blacks, but “violent crimes are disproportionately committed by blacks.”

    That’s something you probably won’t hear at a Black Lives Matter rally.

    But Black Lives protesters also have a point: Some cops are sadistic, racist bullies.”

    Neither side is interested in dealing with this problem, they are only interested in exploiting it.

  4. “Only 3 percent of all people who commit a violent victimization or property crime end up in prison. You have to work very hard be very unlucky to end up in prison.”


    1. You have to work very hard be very unlucky to end up in prison.”

      Or be very stupid. Or both. Usually it’s the dumb ones that get caught.

  5. You just don’t get it. If cops were costantly in your neighborhood writing tickets for the sole purpose of generating revenue you would be incensed. Blacks know the cops aren’t in the mayors neighborhood writing petty tickets all day long. So the resentment is already there and when a cop comes in and kills a black man for selling loosies, or CDs; when they make prostitute or someone’s daughter have sex or take a ride downtown for some victimless crime the hatred gets worse. You say report it. They do and it is usually swept under the rug. A not so small percentage of cops break the very laws they are supposed to enforce and the ” good cops” don’t say shit. So do two things. Get rid of bad cops and get out of poor neighbors messing with people for victimless crimes.

  6. 700 out 100,000 people are in prison and probably 10 times that amount are on probation. Do to think maybe just maybe our system is screwed up. A kid steals a car and go to jail where he probably be raped and beat . A white collar criminal related to the President steals 300 million, pays a 3 million dollar fine. I think you might understand why people don’t like or law enforcement system

  7. the problem arises when the government tries to “solve” anything. especially when that solution is through policing.

    there is one thing that correlates, almost perfectly, with the homicide rate in America…. lead exposure. the use of lead based paints correlated with a spike, as did the impact of leaded fuels. during the first spike, you got prohibition, during the second, you got the war on drugs. the problem was when government tried to solve a problem, by addressing something that was not really the cause. that’s why homicide rates have fallen over the last 20years, even though the drug war continues.

  8. No doubt there is a contingent that vilifies and calls for attacks against the police. They are called criminals. And they are largely the result of drug prohibition. Too many laws brings contempt for the law.

    Let’s be realistic. Any civil service will have managerial problems that leads to the protection of poor employees, especially those who have tenure. This is even more so if a department is unionized. We can expect continued problems, as government doesn’t do anything well.

    But as the article notes, the alcohol prohibition brought violence and the drug prohibition continues it. At least we can take a big step by ending prohibition.

  9. Heather MacDonald sounds like she loves a police state dildo up her you know what.

    Women who are tough on crimes types are the worst.

  10. My friend just told me about this easiest method of freelancing. I’ve just tried it and now I am getting paid 18000usd monthly without spending too much time. you can also do this.

    See Here—–> http://www.CareerPlus90.com

  11. Heather Mac Donald says crime fell after computer-directed policing sent more cops to high-crime neighborhoods and officers started arresting people for “quality of life” crimes like public urination.

    Maybe so, but let’s say we explicitly divide crimes into “bullshit crimes that provide an excuse to lock people up” and “actual crimes we want to stop”, with the understanding that the objective, which is necessarily against the more classically liberal spirit of the law, is to use the former to put bad people away so they don’t get to commit the latter.

    The relevant (utilitarian) question isn’t “did crime drop when we escalated enforcement on bullshit crimes?”, it’s “did real crime drop when we escalated enforcement on bullshit crimes, and how many not-exactly-innocent people did we have to put away, and for how long, to stop one real crime?”.

    1. This is an important point, and it highlights the hypocrisy of progressives as they push for more laws and weakening of our civil liberties on the one hand, and decry the enforcement of those laws when it comes to certain groups.

      Rangel, the rest of the Congressional Black Caucua, and many progressives touted increased sentences for crack cocaine, for example. It was “racist” to oppose it. Now it’s racist to continue it.

  12. This is exactly like the pedophile priests in the Catholic church. By covering up for the few bad cops it tarnishes the reputation of all cops. When people lose their respect for the police they will no longer see them as protectors of the community but as protectors of the government. As protectors of the government they become oppressors and then are resisted. That is exactly what happened in Dallas. If the police want to stop this war against them they must aggressively weed out those bad cops from law enforcement and stop covering up for them. It is the bad cops that shoot unarmed men who are already down on the ground. It is bad cops who shoot a man sitting in his car because he was reaching for the license that he was told to produce. It is bad cops who roll up to a 12 year old playing with a BB gun and shoot him dead even when that State is an open carry state. The ball is in their court.

  13. Cherry picking statistics? You’re better than this, Mr. Stossel. 2015 was the safest year ever? Don’t worry, cops are getting shot 44% faster this year since BLM and its’ Liberaltarian apologists have gotten the word out that killing cops is cool and resisting arrest is no problemo.

    1. cops are getting shot 44% faster this year

      I can’t believe you toss this horseshit out there *immediately after* trying to bust Stossels balls about “statistics”.

      You’re fucking retarded. Here’s the best source on data re: police shootings =


      And what do they show over the past decade?

      year – # police killed by gunfire – % change vs. previous

      2006 51
      2007 67 31.4%
      2008 41 -38.8%
      2009 47 14.6%
      2010 59 25.5%
      2011 68 15.3%
      2012 48 -29.4%
      2013 31 -35.4%
      2014 47 51.6%
      2015 39 -17.0%

      in short, between 40-70 cops get shot every year. and the annual standard deviation is about 30%. Meaning, “shit happens”.

      And BLM has had absolutely zero effect on cops getting shot; there have been FEWER average police shootings in the years since they’ve been active than in the previous 5 years they were not.

      Its fine for you to be an idiot, but please don’t pretend you’re pwning “stossell” by throwing out bogus numbers yourself.

  14. Maybe Trump is right and America should jail more people. I hope he will be able to resolve the situation with high crime rate in comparison to other countries. Anyway it is good material to include on my research paper, so I am going to edit my research paper right away!

  15. IMO, a better theory about why crime rates are lowering:


  16. my classmate’s aunt makes $80 an hour on the computer . She has been out of work for 6 months but last month her check was $18306 just working on the computer for a few hours.click for this website

    _+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+ http://www.55easyline.com

  17. Showbox Download, Showbox Apk Download, Showbox App Download: Nowadays technology has brought a lot of changes in our lives, especially in education and communication.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.