(Bo Xilai's) handpicked police chief, Wang Lijun, who sowed fear in the city with an unshackled crackdown on organized crime that won Mr. Bo national attention, was also under scrutiny.
How dare the police strike fear in the city by organizing a crackdown against organized crime? Don't they know that citizens feel safe in the presence of crime? Yes - the entire city, in general, is now more fearful as a result of the police doing its duty and fighting crime.
What the article really meant was that the crackdown sowed fear in criminal's hearts. But remember - its the New York Times we're talking about. Journalists working for such a prestigious newspaper could hardly be expected to soil their lofty minds with something as inconsequential as semantic common sense.