High-profile fatal clashes between police and black men in the U.S. have made officers reluctant to use force and stop suspicious people as tensions between cops and African American communities remain on edge, according to a study released Wednesday.
The Pew Research survey of 8,000 officers across the country also found that police believe their jobs have become harder because of the attention surrounding officer-involved shootings.
The survey, conducted between May and August, revealed that 76 percent of officers are now more hesitant to use force even when they believe it is justified, while another 72 percent are less willing to stop and question people who appear suspicious.
The report came two days after the FBI released data showing that violent crimes in the U.S. spiked during the first half of 2016. The FBI revealed that violent crime had increased over 6 percent in metropolitan counties, with nationwide murder rates up 5.2 percent.
The new findings suggest that the so-called Ferguson effect, where officers are backing off their core duties for fear of public scrutiny, has become reality in the U.S.
Rich Morin, a senior editor at Pew Research, told the Wall Street Journal that the high-profile protests following police shootings have “clearly had consequences in the way that police officers view their jobs and conduct their jobs on the streets.”
The incoming Trump administration has echoed the sentiment. Attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions testified during his Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday that the criticism of police was directly linked to the rise in crime in U.S. cities.
“Moral has been affected and it’s impacted the crime rates in Baltimore and the crime rates in Chicago,” Sessions said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about it.”