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The head of the FBI, James Comey, said Friday that he thinks the recent attention paid to police misconduct has helped lead to a rise in violent crime.

Comey floated the theory in a speech at the University of Chicago Law School. He was talking about an uptick in violent crime that has plagued some cities in past month.


From the Associated Press:

[Comey] said while there likely are multiple factors behind the spike in violence in cities, including Chicago, officers and others nationwide have told him they see "the era of viral videos" as a link.

"I don't know whether this explains it entirely, but 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," Comey said.


With that declaration, Comey becomes the latest official to speculate about the so-called "Ferguson effect." This line of thinking posits that the Black Lives Matter movement and the increased scrutiny of police have led to officers being more cautious and giving more latitude to criminals.

Comey faces one nagging problem with this theory: there is no evidence to back it up, as multiple studies have shown.


The New York Times said that officials in the Justice Department who disagreed with Comey "privately fumed" about his comments.