Comey, complete and unexpurgated

Yesterday’s New York Times carried Michael Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo’s page-one report “FBI chief links scrutiny of police to rise in violent crime.” On Thursday President Obama spoke up for the virtues of the disgusting Black Lives Matter movement. On Friday at the University of Chicago Law School FBI Director James Comey provided a sort of counterpoint.

Comey’s comments do not comport with the Times’s prescribed views or, I think, the views of the Times’s man in the White House, so the Schmidt/Apuzzo article is full of the usual disclaimers and rebuttals. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way this particular wind blows.

Schmidt and Apuzzo might have reached out to Heather Mac Donald for comments from a scholar who lends support to Comey’s speech, but my guess is that they haven’t heard of her unless they are particularly close readers of the Times’s Room For Debate forum, which posted Mac Donald’s “Rise in crime is a reason to fear anti-police rhetoric” this past June. I bet Schmidt and Apuzzo missed Heather’s May 29 Wall Street Journal column “The new nationwide crime wave.” I bet they also overlooked Heather’s follow-up column “Explaining away the new crime wave.” Heather might make heads explode over at the Times.

Here are two of Comey’s comments I have extracted from the Times sludge for consumption as bite-size edibles. The Times article opens: “The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said on Friday that the additional scrutiny and criticism of police officers in the wake of highly publicized episodes of police brutality may have led to an increase in violent crime in some cities as officers have become less aggressive.” Now the edibles:

“I don’t know whether that explains it entirely, but I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind that has blown through American law enforcement over the last year.”

* * * * *

But Mr. Comey said that he had been told by many police leaders that officers who would normally stop to question suspicious people are opting to stay in their patrol cars for fear of having their encounters become worldwide video sensations. That hesitancy has led to missed opportunities to apprehend suspects, he said, and has decreased the police presence on the streets of the country’s most violent cities.

“I’ve been told by a senior police leader who urged his force to remember that their political leadership has no tolerance for a viral video,” Mr. Comey said, adding that many leaders and officers whom he had spoken to said they were afraid to address the issue publicly.

“Lives are saved when those potential killers are confronted by a police officer, a strong police presence and actual, honest-to-goodness, up-close ‘What are you guys doing on this corner at 1 o’clock in the morning’ policing,” Mr. Comey said. “We need to be careful it doesn’t drift away from us in the age of viral videos, or there will be profound consequences.”

Here’s the beauty part. The FBI has posted the text of Comey’s speech. Not surprisingly, Schmidt and Apuzzo don’t do justice to it. I think that readers interested in these issues will want to take a look at the whole thing. In case you are disinclined to click on the link, here is a small slice of Comey’s complete, unexpurgated reflections omitted by Schmidt and Apuzzo:

When I worked as a prosecutor in Richmond, Virginia, in the 1990s, that city, like so much of America, was experiencing horrific levels of violent crime.

But to describe it that way obscures an important truth: for the most part, white people weren’t dying; black people were dying.

Most white people could drive around the problem. If you were white and not involved in the drug trade as a buyer or a seller, you were largely apart from the violence. You could escape it.

But if you were black and poor, it didn’t matter whether you were a player in the drug trade or not, because violent crime dominated your life, your neighborhood, your world.

There was no way to drive around the violence that came with the drug trade and the drug trade was everywhere in your neighborhood. And that meant the violence was everywhere.

The notion of a “non-violent” drug gang member would have elicited a tired laugh from a resident of Richmond’s worst neighborhoods.

Because the entire trade was a plague of violence that strangled Richmond’s black neighborhoods. The lookouts, runners, mill-workers, enforcers, and dealers were all cut from the same suffocating cloth. Whether they pulled the trigger or not, those folks were killing the community.

Like so many in law enforcement in the 1980s and 1990s, we worked hard to try to save lives in those Richmond neighborhoods—in those black neighborhoods—by rooting out the drug dealers, the predators, the gang bangers, the killers. Of course, we also worked “up the chain” to lock up big-time dealers all the way to Colombia.

But we felt a tremendous urgency to try to save lives in the poor neighborhoods of Richmond….We did this work because we believed that all lives matter, especially the most vulnerable.

Whole thing here.