New York Daily News

Updated: January 11, 2017, 10:56 PM

  

 

Cops say 'Ferguson effect' makes them hesitant to use force — even when they think they should — in survey

BY CHAUNCEY ALCORN, THOMAS TRACY

Three-quarters of cops surveyed in a national study say they’re reluctant to use force — even when they think it’s appropriate — as a result of the so-called “Ferguson effect.”

About the same ratio of cops say they’re more hesitant to stop and question suspicious people, fearing their actions will be heavily scrutinized.

The results of a survey of nearly 8,000 cops conducted by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center were released on Wednesday. The findings, which also show that 93% of cops are more concerned about their safety, came as no surprise to the head of the city’s largest police union.

“Law enforcement has become more difficult and dangerous than ever before, and police officers across the country feel it every time they go out on patrol,” said Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. “One important difference between New York City police officers and our colleagues elsewhere is that while 74% of police officers nationwide are satisfied with their departments as a place to work, New York City police officers' morale is at rock bottom.”

The survey also found:

  • 75% of officers said interactions between blacks and police have become more intense.
  • 86% said high-profile killings of blacks by police — like Eric Garner in Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. — have made their jobs tougher.
  • 67% said the deaths of blacks at the hands of police are isolated incidents.
  • 14% said the public understands the inherent danger of policing.

The National Police Research Platform conducted the study for Pew, surveying officers from departments with at least 100 officers between May 19 and Aug. 14.

Garner died on July 17, 2014, after Officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a chokehold. A Staten Island grand jury declined to indict the cop. The feds are investigating, but haven’t charged Pantaleo.

Brown, 18, was shot to death by Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. The shooting in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, set off protests around the country. A grand jury failed to indict Wilson.

Since then, the Black Lives Matter movement has been galvanized by the killings of African-Americans in places such as Baton Rouge, La., Tulsa, Okla., North Charleston, S.C. and Charlotte, N.C..

Also, five cops were killed in Dallas and three were murdered in Baton Rouge, just weeks apart in July of last year.

Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were ambushed, shot to death while sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn in 2014.

Police Commissioner James O’Neill, asked about the Pew study on Wednesday, said relationships between cops and minority communities in New York and other cities remain strained.

“The last couple of years have been very difficult for the community and police officers," O’Neill said. "We're looking to move forward, evolve and continue to bridge that gap.”

It was not disclosed if NYPD officers participated in the survey. 

With News Wire Services