President Barack Obama said he did not believe evidence supported the idea that the Black Lives Matter movement has put a chilling effect on law enforcement throughout the country which in turn has resulted in some crime spikes.
"NBC Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt asked the president about the so-called "Ferguson effect" in an interview that aired Tuesday.
"Your own FBI director has raised this idea of the 'Ferguson effect.' That police officers may be laying back a bit — they don't want to end up on somebody's camcorder — and as a result, we are seeing a spike in homicides in some cities. Do you fear that could undermine, derail what you are trying to do right now?" Holt asked.
"Well, what is absolutely true is we have seen some spikes in violent crime in some cities," Obama replied. "Overall, the violent crime rate is still near the historic lows. We saw an extraordinary drop over the last 20 years. Last year was the lowest ever. We've seen a spike in some cities this year, but it's still close to the historic lows.
The president added that he has told Attorney General Loretta Lynch that when a spike in violent crime is observed, the federal government needs to do what it can to "get on top of this."
Holt, seemingly not entirely satisfied with Obama's answer, pressed him further.
"But is it something that you think it's chilled, that police officers are feeling?" he asked.
"You know, we have not seen any evidence of that," Obama responded. "And I think the FBI director would be the first to say that he's heard antidotal suggestions that it may be happening in selective sites, but we don't know."
Holt's questions were in reference to a recent comment FBI Director James Comey made last month during a speech in which he suggested crime was spiking in part because there has been a "chill wind blowing through American law enforcement over the last year."
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