Violent crime has been rising sharply in many American cities after two decades of decline. Homicides jumped nearly 17 percent in 2015 in the largest 50 cities, the biggest one-year increase since 1993. The reason is what Heather Mac Donald first identified nationally as the “Ferguson effect”: Since the 2014 police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, officers have been backing off of proactive policing, and criminals are becoming emboldened.
This book expands on Mac Donald’s groundbreaking and controversial reporting on the Ferguson effect and the criminal-justice system. It deconstructs the central narrative of the Black Lives Matter movement: that racist cops are the greatest threat to young black males. On the contrary, it is criminals and gangbangers who are responsible for the high black homicide death rate.
The War on Cops exposes the truth about officer use of force and explodes the conceit of “mass incarceration.” A rigorous analysis of data shows that crime, not race, drives police actions and prison rates. The growth of proactive policing in the 1990s, along with lengthened sentences for violent crime, saved thousands of minority lives. In fact, Mac Donald argues, no government agency is more dedicated to the proposition that “black lives matter” than today’s data-driven, accountable police department.
Mac Donald gives voice to the many residents of high-crime neighborhoods who want proactive policing. She warns that race-based attacks on the criminal-justice system, from the White House on down, are eroding the authority of law and putting lives at risk. This book is a call for a more honest and informed debate about policing, crime, and race.
PRAISE FOR THE WAR ON COPS
“This is a book that can save lives.” —Thomas Sowell
“Heather Mac Donald is an unsung hero in the transformation of New York into the safest large city in the United States. Her essays helped to lay out the rationale that gave me and my police commissioners guidance during the largest continuous reduction in crime ever accomplished in our city and nation. This book is a necessary read for anyone wondering what is happening in ‘the capital of the world.’” —The Honorable Rudolph Giuliani, former mayor of New York City
“The War on Cops is an important and timely book. Mac Donald’s clear-eyed analysis separates fact from fiction and provides keen insights into the politics at play and the consequences for law-enforcement officers and the communities they are sworn to protect.” —Ray Kelly, former commissioner of the New York City Police Department
“If you have heard the rhetoric on all sides of the issues involving the police, and would like some facts to put that rhetoric to the test, there is no better source than The War on Cops. Whether you want facts about the explosive events in Ferguson, Missouri, or in Baltimore, or you want to know why murder rates in New York City fell sharply in the 1990s, this is the place to find solid information. If you want to understand the role of race in all this, that, too, is documented with data. This is a book that can save lives.” —Thomas Sowell, the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University
“Heather Mac Donald has made an indispensable contribution to our public debates with her incisive and critical reporting on the thorny issues of race, crime, and policing in America’s big cities. Time and again, I have found myself turning to her writings for guidance. While I do not always agree with what I find, I often do. Moreover, I am invariably edified. All serious students of urban America today should read this book and reckon with its arguments.” —Glenn C. Loury, the Merton P. Stolz Professor of the Social Sciences, Brown University
“The War on Cops offers a perspective that supporters of law enforcement have long been waiting for. It is informed by street-level reporting, knowledge of real-world policing, and empirical research. Unlike many in academia and journalism, Mac Donald understands that assertive policing protects law-abiding poor—and often minority—citizens trapped in ghettos where violence and crime are unfortunately making a comeback.” —Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr., Milwaukee County, Wisconsin
PRAISE FOR HEATHER MAC DONALD
‘No journalist now writing about urban problems has produced a body of work matching that of Heather Mac Donald.’ —George F. Will
“The best and most intrepid journalist writing on racial issues today.” —Shelby Steele
“If there were any justice in the world, Mac Donald would be knee-deep in Pulitzer Prizes and National Magazine Awards for her pioneering work.” —David Brooks
About the Author
Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal.
A non-practicing lawyer, Mac Donald has clerked for the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, has been an attorney-adviser in the Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and a volunteer with the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York City.
The New Jersey State Law Enforcement Officers Association conferred its Civilian Valor Award on her in 2004. She was awarded the 2008 Integrity in Journalism award from the New York State Shields. She was also the recipient of the 2008 Eugene Katz Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Immigration from the Center for Immigration Studies and the 2012 Quill & Badge Award for Excellence in Communication from the International Union of Police Associations.
Her writings have also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, The New Republic, Partisan Review, The New Criterion, Public Interest, and Academic Questions.
Mac Donald received her B.A. in English from Yale University, graduating with a Mellon Fellowship to Cambridge University, where she earned her M.A. in English and studied in Italy through a Clare College study grant. Her J.D. is from Stanford University Law School.