SIU-C Researcher Studies the "Ferguson Effect" on Police Officers

Jan 16, 2019

A researcher at SIU-Carbondale is studying the impact of public scrutiny on police officers.

Tammy Kochel  conducted surveys with the St. Louis County Police Department before the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson and then returned for interviews after the unrest.

Kochel says she is trying to understand what the so-called "Ferguson Effect" means and how it effects officers' work.
"Looking at this idea that following the experience of protest policing, officers themselves then felt less motivated to do their job, less satisfied with the profession and with their job themselves, or more concerned about using force in the wake of Ferguson...even if the situation or circumstances called for using force, just feeling apprehension."

She says one of her main goals in studying the meaning of the "Ferguson Effect" is to show the impact of protest policing from law enforcement's perspective. She says St. Louis County Police thought it would paint a more accurate picture.
"The media portrayal of policing during Ferguson they felt was slanted and that maybe here was an opportunity to present a more objective, less hostile, view about what it was like for the police and what they were thinking and what they were experiencing."

Kochel says a number of officers told her they suffered health problems from the stress of working long hours and feeling detached from the community.

She is currently examining why black police officers had lower "Ferguson Effect" than white officers did. She plans to write a book on her research.

Credit Kochel slide