The Ferguson effect says that cops are afraid of doing their job because they might be filmed doing so and having their actions judged. Simplified, it can essentially be viewed as the slowing down of enforcement due to and in fear of public scrutiny. Apparently it's also the cause of the "rise in violent crime" and our "current crime waves", despite no evidence whatsoever supporting these notions.
The term was first coined by Sam Dotson, the chief of the St.Louis Police Department, in a column for the ST.Louis Dispatch. It then gained popularity after an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal by Heather MacDonald. In the article MacDonald states that "unless the demonistration of law enforcement ends, the liberating gains in urban safety will be lost." MacDonald would then go on to quote several police officers saying that police moral was at an all time low. The term has also been used by James Comey, director of the FBI, and Chuck Rosenberg, director of the DEA.
The idea of a "Ferguson effect" was criticized immediately by law enforcement and politicians alike. William Bratton, police commissioner of New York City, said he had seen no evidence of the "Ferguson effect" in his city. Lorretta Lynch testified before congress saying that there was "no data" of any "Ferguson effect". Barrack Obama also spoke out against it.
Reports and studies
A June 2015 report by the Sentencing Project on the Ferguson effect found that "there is no credible and comprehensive evidence about any such effect." A November 2015 report by the Brennan Center for Justice found that although killings and overall lawlessness were increasing in some U.S. cities, nationwide crime rates were still decreasing, and predicted that crime rates would decrease by 1.5% from 2014 to 2015.
A 2015 study looked at a possible "Ferguson effect" not on crime, but on police willingness to partner with communities. The study found that officers who felt their agency was fair or were confident of their own authority were more likely to partner with their communities, "regardless of the effects of negative publicity."