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FBI director blames 'viral video effect' for spike in violent crime

James Comey says a fear of ending up on the Internet may be leading to less aggressive policing.

The head of the FBI believes that a spike in violent crime in many cities may be due to officers' fears of showing up on Internet videos confronting suspects.

FBI Director James Comey told reporters Wednesday that a "viral video effect" is leading to less aggressive policing that "could well be at the heart" of an alarming increase in murders in many cities, according to an account recorded by the New York Times.

"There's a perception that police are less likely to do the marginal additional policing that suppresses crime -- the getting out of your car at 2 in the morning and saying to a group of guys, 'Hey, what are you doing here?'" he told reporters.

Comey's remarks came after he was briefed on rising crime rates in more than 40 cities during the first quarter of 2016. The director did not reveal specific statistics, and the FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While Comey first raised the issue in October, police officer activity has been under increased public scrutiny since the videotaped beating of Rodney King at the hands of Los Angeles police officers in 1991.