National Security

FBI head warns of divide between cops, minorities

The director of the FBI is warning of a growing divide between police and anti-brutality activists, in comments that appear critical of new scrutiny on law enforcement officials.

In a pair of speeches in recent days, FBI Director James Comey has said that diverging lines between police and minority communities may lead to a wave of new violence.

{mosads}“Each incident that involves perceived or actual misconduct by police that’s captured on video and spreads around the world bends this line this way,” Comey said on Monday during the annual convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Chicago. “Each incident that involves an attack on a member of law enforcement bends our line that way.

“I have seen those lines arcing apart in a lot of different ways,” he added.

“I actually feel the lines continuing to arc away and maybe accelerating incident by incident, video by video, hashtag by hashtag,” Comey continued. “And that’s a terrible place for us to be.

“Just as those lines are arcing away from each other — and maybe, just maybe, because those lines are arcing away from each other — we have a crisis of violent crime in some of our major cities in this country.”

On Friday, Comey sounded a similar alarm, positing that “something in policing has changed.”

“In today’s YouTube world, are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime?” he asked during a speech at the University of Chicago Law School, according to a transcript of the address.

In one urban precinct, Comey added, police feel like they’re “under siege” because they are surrounded by “young people with mobile phone cameras held high, taunting them the moment they get out of their cars.”

“I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind blowing through American law enforcement over the last year. And that wind is surely changing behavior.”

The comments appear to support the “Ferguson effect,” which police advocates have said causes officers to back down in the face of extra scrutiny on their actions, creating a vacuum that hurts community safety. The focus on police violence was sparked by a number of people killed by officers in recent years, most notably last year’s killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

Tags Black Lives Matter FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation Ferguson Missouri James Comey

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