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William Bratton says NYPD cops impacted by 'Ferguson effect'

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton says the so-called Ferguson

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton says the so-called Ferguson effect has caused police in New York City to be less proactive out of concern that they won't be protected from backlash. Here, he delivers an update on the fatal shooting of Officer Randolph Holder Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, at 1 Police Plaza. Credit: Bryan R. Smith

The so-called Ferguson effect has caused police in New York City and elsewhere to be less proactive out of concern that they won't be protected from backlash, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said Friday.

Speaking with reporters after a promotion ceremony at police headquarters at which a majority of new captain jobs went to minorities, Bratton said he concurred with comments made this week by FBI Director James Comey.

Comey, citing anecdotal evidence, said at a conference of police chiefs that a "chill wind" has affected cops who don't feel like getting out of their cars to fight crime.

Comey said cops worry about winding up on YouTube if they confront criminals. Some law enforcement experts refer to the disengagement of cops as the Ferguson effect, referring to the anti-police demonstrations, riots and invective that followed the August 2014 killing of Michael Brown by a cop in Ferguson, Missouri.

"I am a big fan of director Comey. His speech was fine, direct and solidly in position to lead America in a discussion on this issue, that needs to be discussed. And I am supportive of him, his earlier comments on the matters of race, his comments on his perceptions on what might be happening relative to crime increases many of our cities are experiencing," Bratton said.

Asked if he thought the Ferguson effect had influenced NYPD officers, Bratton said his cops pulled back after officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were shot dead in December 2014.

"We clearly saw in this city that, after the murder of our two officers in December, that a significant decline in police self-generated activity for a period of time," Bratton said.

Bratton said that downward crime trends show cops are back to being proactive.

At the promotion ceremony, 10 of 17 new captains elevated, or 58.8 percent, were minorities, the highest such percentage in modern NYPD history, officials said. Bratton said the department draws its future inspectors and chiefs from the rank of captain.

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