Cops don't shoot? How national shooting aftermath changes local policing

Has national officer-involved shooting backlash changed how local cops do their jobs? Bill Frankmore investigates (Sinclair Broadcast Group)

Following a rash of officer-involved shootings and community unrest, some experts say police officers are slow to pull the trigger, even when their own safety is in danger.

It's being called the Ferguson effect, named after the police shooting and violent protests that followed in Ferguson, Missouri.

Earlier this month, an officer in Chicago was knocked unconscious trying to make an arrest. She said she was afraid to shoot the suspect because she didn't want her family or department to face the scrutiny afterwards.

We spoke with Reno police officers, and they told us the Ferguson effect is real.

“We have something else to think about versus handling the situation as need be,” says Officer George Carranza. “That split second hesitation is going cost somebody, an officer, serious injury, or their lives.”

Reno Deputy Police Chief Mac Venzon has been there, and he didn't hesitate.

“He came out, brandished a firearm at me and I really had no choice but to shoot him,” said Venzon.

It happened in 2001. The suspect was killed, and even though the shooting was deemed justified, it weighed on Venzon and his family.

“I grew up in this community, I signed up to help people in this community, and here I am having to kill someone in this community. It was hard for me to take in,” he said.

Venzon believes it would be much harder to absorb in this day and age. He says officers faced with using deadly force now carry an extra burden that hopefully won't backfire .

“I think the police officers do think about it. I hope it doesn't delay what they need to do to keep the community safe - and themselves safe.”

Although there are conflicting opinions on if the Ferguson Effect is real, a recent study published by the National Institute of Justice found that there was a significant increase in homicides in 56 large cities, and examined the Ferguson effect as a possible cause.

Have questions or comments on this story? Connect with Bill on Facebook or Twitter.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off