Heather Mac Donald disrupted the normal black victimhood mantra normally presented at congressional hearings, like the one Wednesday during the House Oversight Committee on Policing Practices. The norm is too hear multiple stories about how police are the reason why blacks live in sub standard and often inhumane conditions, that blacks in the inner city are afraid of police, that they have to warn their children about how to talk to police so as not to make them angry.
But that’s not the reason why black are suffering and dying in inner cities. The reality is what Ms. Mac Donald shared before the committee, during her five minutes of testimony.
Surprisingly, felony crime in the U.S. has dropped 50 percent since the ‘90s, she said.
“Tens of thousands of lives, the majority Black and Hispanic, have been saved, closing the life expectancy gap between whites and blacks by 17 percent.”
This is the result of a policing revolution started in 1994 by New York Police Commissioner William Bratton, who set yearly crime reduction goals, she said.
“The idea that the police would take measurable responsibility for public safety was transformative,” she said.
Bratton accomplished crime reform with three main strategies: timely information, accountability, and proactive policing, she said.
“Deputy commissioners started demanding crime information in real time, so that crime patterns could be addressed as they first broke out,” she said. “Top brass held precinct commanders ruthlessly accountable for the crime in their jurisdictions. And officers on the beat were asked to intervene proactively when they observed suspicious behavior.”
Bratton introduced a Broken Windows policing policy to introduce a revolutionary aspect of the new model, she said.
“It addresses low level social disorder, such as loitering, unruly conduct, and public drinking and drug use," Mac Donald said.
But Broken Windows policing is not just a crime strategy, however, it is a moral imperative, she said.
“It is the hard-working, law-abiding residents of high crime neighborhoods who beseech the police to address street disorder,” she said. “Go to any police-community meeting in a high risk community and you will hear the good people there beg the police to get the drug dealers off the streets, to clear the corners of rowdy youth, and to crack down on loud music and illegal street parties. Those residents know that it is out of such unchecked social disorder that more serious crime emerges.”
Mac Donald shared a 2015 Quinnipiac poll, that found 61 percent of black voters in New York City wanted the police to “issue summonses or make arrests” in their neighborhood for quality-of-life offenses, compared to 59 percent of white voters.
“Should the police ignore their voices because the activists say that broken windows policing is racist?” she asked.
Mac Donald also challenged the idea that America is “living through an epidemic of racially biased police shootings of black men.”
This, too, is false, she said.
In fact, a study published this August in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is just the latest research undercutting the media narrative about race and police shootings, she said.
“It is the rate of violent crime that determines police shootings, the study found, “ she said.
The more frequently officers encounter violent suspects from any given racial group, the greater the chance that members of that group will be shot by a police officer, she said.
“In fact, black civilians are shot less, compared to whites, than their rates of violent crime would predict, the study found,” she said. “If there is a bias in police shootings, it is against white civilians.”
Mac Donald said the anti-police narrative deflects attention away from solving the real criminal justice problem, which is high rates of black victimization.
Blacks die of homicide at eight times the rate of whites, she said.
“The homicide death rate for black males between the ages of 15 and 24 is 16 times higher than that of young white men,” she said. “That is the civil rights problem that should most concern us. Those black victims are killed not by cops, not by whites, but by other blacks. Blacks commit homicide nationally at eight times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined.”
In 2017, there were 7851 black homicide victims—more than all white and Hispanic homicide victims combined.
“Only 2.8 percent of those black casualties--the vast majority armed with a gun or otherwise dangerous--were killed by a cop,” she said.
The best solution to urban crime is to reconstruct the family, she said.
“That is a long-term project, however,” she said. “In the meantime, the policing revolution that began in New York in the 1990s and spread nationwide has given law-abiding residents of high crime communities greater freedom to take their children to school or go to the grocery store without fear, an expectation that is the government’s most fundamental obligation to meet."
Policing today is more professional and restrained than at any time in its history, she said.
“And there is no government agency more dedicated to the proposition that black lives matter than the police"
Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a public policy think tank in New York City, and is the author of War on Cops and The Diversity Delusion.
© 2019 Larry Ingram
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