Last week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined other big city mayors and police chiefs in Washington, D.C., to discuss the violence plaguing their cities. One of the conclusions they drew is that the increase in violence is partly due to the decrease in policing.
During the discussion in D.C., the many of the leaders, including Emanuel, agreed that part of the problem is the “YouTube effect,” meaning officers are less aggressive now than they were before due to the fear of becoming the star of the next viral video about police abuse.
Emanuel used the word “fetal” to describe these officers.
“We have allowed our police department to get fetal and it is having a direct consequence,” Emanuel told U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the meeting, according to the Washington Post. “They have pulled back from the ability to interdict … they don’t want to be a news story themselves, they don’t want their career ended early, and it’s having an impact.”
On Monday, Emanuel defended that comment to the Chicago Tribune, saying the events that happened in Ferguson and Baltimore led many officers to back down when they might not have before.
“What happened post-Baltimore, what happened post-Ferguson is having an impact,” Emanuel said. “And I still believe recent events over the last year or 18 months have had an impact. And officers will tell you that. And I tried to speak up for the good officers that are doing community policing that make up the men and women of the Chicago Police Department.”
At last week’s meeting, New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton backed up that thought, saying the perception of police in New York would have been even worse if two of their officers were not killed execution-style in December.
The summit was held following a particularly violent September in Chicago. For two consecutive weeks, more than 50 people were shot. Just a few weeks later, the Daily Beast named Chicago “America’s mass-shooting capital.”