The 'Ferguson effect' or too many guns? Exploring the rise in violent crime in Chicago

One of the most hotly contested debates today involves the recent uptick in violent crime and the extent to which increases in violence may be explained by the "Ferguson effect," whereby the increased scrutiny of police since the 2014 Ferguson unrest has been hypothesized to lead police officers to become more hesitant and less aggressive. Chicago is an epicenter for much of this controversy, and on numerous occasions President Trump has threatened to "send in the feds."

In an article published today in Significance, the official magazine and website of the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) and the American Statistical Association (ASA), Arizona State University professors Sherry Towers and Michael D. White examine violence in Chicago and test whether the trends are consistent with the "Ferguson effect." They also test a competing claim proposed by Former NYPD Commissioner William Bratton that much of the recent violence in Chicago is tied to the proliferation of guns in that city.

Towers and White found no evidence of a Ferguson effect in Chicago.

"Murders and gun assaults in Chicago began increasing before Michael Brown's death in Ferguson," says Towers, a research professor in the Simon A. Levin Mathematical and Computational Modeling Sciences Center at Arizona State University in Tempe.

They did find a strong association between firearms availability and in Chicago, supporting Commissioner Bratton's argument.

"Our analysis highlights the importance of including measures of firearms proliferation when studying trends in in Chicago and elsewhere," says White, a policing expert and professor in the ASU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice in Phoenix.

Explore further

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More information: Sherry Towers et al. The "Ferguson effect", or too many guns?, Significance (2017). DOI: 10.1111/j.1740-9713.2017.01018.x
Journal information: Significance

Citation: The 'Ferguson effect' or too many guns? Exploring the rise in violent crime in Chicago (2017, April 5) retrieved 19 April 2019 from
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Apr 05, 2017
Want to know why gun violence s up? Go watch the Lone Ranger, The Rifleman, Bonanza. etc.
The good guys fought with their fists and when necessary shot the gun out of the hands of their enemies. And at the most wounded an adversary in the arm or leg.

Now in the movies the good guys shoot them in the face.

That is the new message we send youth today.

Apr 06, 2017
This article provides no data whatsoever, and very little info regarding the assumptions, data quality, and rejection criteria. The referenced article is pay-walled. What a waste.

Apr 06, 2017
Gotta give you a 5 on that one, @Shake. At least if we can't see the article, let's try to get a little more of the hard data on these, shall we? I think this should be sent as feedback to the editors. There's a button for that up there.

Apr 06, 2017
Article tat comes to a similar conclusion can be found on ResearchGate
(this article did not look at firearm availability rates)

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