National outrage over the death of a black man while in police custody and the speed with which a prosecutor decided to charge the officers who arrested him could have a chilling effect on law enforcement — at least in the short term while passions are running so high.

Former law enforcement officials, prosecutors and defense attorneys say the intense scrutiny being cast on the behavior of police departments nationwide — especially regarding their treatment of minorities — could lead to a temptation to stop pursuing certain crimes and suspects rather than risk accusations of misconduct.