Politifact Misses Story of the Year

Do you still think there’s no such thing as the “Ferguson effect”? What about the “war on cops”--is that a myth, too? Crime is going down, we are reassured by Politifact, which gave Donald Trump’s assertion to the contrary earlier this month the “Pants on Fire” classification, its lowest rating. “Donald Trump said, ‘Crime is rising,’” said the Politifact headline. “It’s not (and hasn’t been for decades.” And just above that headline was the Politifact logo, which everywhere it appears boasts, “Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.”

Yes, says Politifact, we have won journalism’s most prestigious award (whatever that’s worth these days), while Donald Trump is . . . Donald Trump, so only a fool would give credence to his claims over ours.

Or maybe not. Our friends at the American Enterprise Institute took the trouble to practice a bit of journalism and give those Pulitzer Prize winners some schooling. “There’s a big problem with their conclusion,” says AEI, “Politifact just stopped looking at data in 2014.”

So let’s look back to that year. Did something happen that might have influenced crime? Was there some event or series of events that caused America’s police officers to lose heart and slow down their efforts in combatting crime? On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner died in Staten Island after struggling with NYPD officers trying to arrest him for selling cigarettes. Less than a month later, Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Mo., after committing a robbery and attempting to disarm a police officer. And out of those deaths arose the Black Lives Matter movement, whose members have since been peddling the lie that the ills of America’s inner cities can be blamed on a racist criminal justice system and the “prison-industrial complex,” which depends on racist police officers to feed helpless and blameless blacks into its gaping, insatiable maw.

The media bought it, over-educated elites bought it, and of course politicians bought it, from local rabble-rousers right up to the Rabble-Rouser in Chief. All of them engaged in a shameful campaign of disinformation intended to distract from the genuine problem of black crime. And as a result, more black lives have been and will continue to be lost before this trend is reversed.

As AEI makes clear, violent crime in many cities has risen since 2014, in some cases alarmingly. In Los Angeles, for example, it’s up 45 percent from two years ago, the biggest increase among the cities examined. The picture is even more frightening when homicide figures are checked. Denver, San Diego, Dallas, and Seattle have seen murders increase by more than 40 percent in two years. In Houston, Phoenix, Chicago, and San Antonio the increase is more than 50 percent.

And yet there are no protests, no marches, no expressions of outrage, as the bodies, most of which are black and brown, continue to pile up. But when the police dare to confront this madness, when they try to arrest someone who would rather not be arrested, unless things go precisely as they do in the training videos (and they never do), there will be someone there with a cellphone camera to make sure it is the police officer and not the criminal who is lambasted by people in the media, by the over-educated elites, and by rabble-rousing politicians, none of whom would dare set foot in some of the affected neighborhoods without an armed escort.

In my previous column I discussed one such incident in Chicago, in which a drug dealer who was choking an officer was subdued when a second officer kicked him in the head. The outrage that followed was directed not at the recently paroled drug dealer but rather at the officer who kicked him; he remains on desk duty despite the fact that no one in the Chicago Police Department can point to a regulation he violated. Thus it should come as no surprise that police officers in Chicago are becoming ever more circumspect in their enforcement efforts, and that not a day goes by that the Chicago Tribune doesn’t run a story like this one, chronicling the latest wave of death and mayhem.

And now comes the latest blow, this from a member of the over-educated elite who happens to sit on the Supreme Court. Last week, the Court upheld the conviction of a Utah man who, when stopped by police without the required reasonable suspicion, was nonetheless found to have an outstanding warrant. When arrested for that warrant, he was found in possession of methamphetamine. In a 4-3 vote, the Court ruled, in Utah v. Strieff (PDF), that the discovery of the warrant provided sufficient “attenuation” between the unlawful stop and the finding of the drugs.

I will not go so far as to say that the dissenters, Justices Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor, have no grounds for their argument. Indeed, much of Sotomayor’s written opinion is sound, though as a police officer I am gratified it expresses a minority view. But rather than rest her argument on legal precedent, Sotomayor went on, in Part IV of her opinion, to engage in reasoning right out of the Black Lives Matter handbook. She goes so far as to invoke “the talk,” i.e., the cautionary tales passed from black and brown parents to their offspring: “instructing them never to run down the street; always keep your hands where they can be seen; do not even think of talking back to a stranger—all out of fear of how an officer with a gun will react to them.”

Justice Sotomayor writes of police officers like a woman who hasn’t met many. In Chicago and elsewhere, it is not the cop’s gun that black and brown people must fear, it is the one wielded by some black or brown person lacking moral guidance in how to use it. And if she is aware of the other “talk” black and brown parents should give their children but too often do not – don’t join a gang; don’t steal; don’t sell drugs; and if you do these things and are caught, don’t fight with the police – she makes no mention of it in her opinion.

So now we know what the Wise Latina thinks of America’s police officers. May she always be in the minority.

(Artwork created using multiple Shutterstock.com images.)