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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Americans have little confidence in the police, according to a USA Today/Pew Research Center poll released on Tuesday. The survey found that most people think police departments don’t do a good job “holding officers accountable for misconduct, treating racial groups equally, and using the right amount of force.” But there are large racial and political divides when it comes to assessing police officers’ job performance.

The poll was conducted two weeks after Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was fatally shot six times by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

It found that 70 percent of blacks, 27 percent of whites, and 36 percent of all surveyed think that police departments across the country do a “poor” job of holding police officers accountable for their actions. When it comes to treating racial and ethnic groups equally, 70 percent of blacks, 25 percent of whites, and 33 percent in total think that police do a “poor” job. Similarly, 57 percent of blacks, 23 percent of whites, and 30 percent overall think that police departments do a “poor” job of using the proper amount of force.

Though whites view the police in a far more positive light than black respondents, only 37 percent of whites think that police departments do an “excellent” or “good” job of holding officers accountable, and 38 percent think that they do an “excellent” or “good” job of treating different races and ethnicities equally.

But the numbers are very different when it comes to assessing local police forces. Whites are almost twice as likely (72 percent of whites vs. 36 percent of blacks) to say that they have confidence in their police forces to treat whites and blacks equally. These numbers are very similar to the results from a 2009 survey asking the same question. The percentage of blacks who say they have “very little” confidence that police will treat them equally has increased from 34 percent in 2009 to 46 percent today.

There’s also a divide (74 percent of whites vs. 36 percent of blacks) when it comes to confidence that local police departments won’t use excessive force. More than half surveyed, and 60 percent of whites, say they are comfortable with police departments using military equipment and weapons, but 68 percent of blacks say that they have “not too much” or “no” confidence at all in police.

A large political gap also exists on police performance, which the pollsters say may be influenced by the “highly negative views of black Democrats.” Most Democrats (73 percent) think police departments only do a “fair” or “poor” job of holding officers accountable for misconduct, compared to 52 percent of Republicans who agree. Though black Democrats are far more likely than white Democrats to be critical of police accountability, white Democrats are more critical than Republicans overall. Young people are also overwhelmingly more critical of the police than those aged 50 and older.

The poll also found that most respondents (69 percent total, 75 percent of whites, and 64 percent of blacks) think that blacks and whites get along “very well.” But fewer blacks think so than in 2009.

AFP Photo/Michael B. Thomas

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  • Stuart

    Wonder if people are waking up to the idea that our police forces have far to many wackos like what we’ve seen in Ferguson and Jennings.

    • CPAinNewYork

      Wonder if people are waking up to the idea that our minority populations have far too many wackos who are so drugged out that the police have to be on the alert for overly aggressive actions.

      Brown was a dirtbag, pure and simple, but he’s a hero to blacks, regardless of his actions. Every action has a reaction.

      • Bill Thompson

        The punishment for shop lifting, being disrespectful or a Wise ass is not death. We have a court system to exact punishment.

        • CPAinNewYork

          Unfortunately, that system is short circuited when the miscreants resist arrest, which I suspect Brown did.

          The same situation existed on Staten Island, where the 300 pound seller of untaxed cigarettes resisted arrest.

          In both cases, the dead miscreants were dirt bags.

          • Paul Bass

            The punishment for resisting arrest, (if he was) should not be execution.

          • CPAinNewYork

            True, but the act of resisting arrest may involve violence that results in death.

      • ExRadioGuy15

        Wow, CPA! Fascism and the “appeal to purity” logical fallacy! Great job! (sarcasm) ssmdh 🙁

  • Bill Thompson

    No matter where you stand on the issue of the actions of the police being too forceful or not. I would like to make an unbiased observation. Reality check number one video cameras are everywhere, what ever you do will be videotaped and that perception is reality. Two when police offices threatening to kill you, lobe teargas at the media and point weapons at civilians it don’t look good. Three when five black man in the course of one month in the course of arrest or are shot to death by white police offices it don’t look good. Four there are website, for example “police” that show videotaped of police offices viciously beating and shooting to death citizens it don’t look good. The beatings at these websites are so vicious and unnecessary it is difficult to watch it for more than a few minutes. Everyone including police offices should have to view this from beginning to end. I understand that the vast majority of police offices in this country are good and well train. But there are many areas of the country that have sub standard training and clearly biased attitudes that must change. In many states particularly in the south the training has been privatized and watered-down this is partially to blame for the poor quality of police offices. Officer candidates in such areas are required to pay for their own training before they are hired it is clearly A recipe for a race to the bottom. Then there are people that simply should not be wearing a badge and they need to be weeded out just like corporate America does.

    • Allan Richardson

      According to the news reports, Ferguson still does not have dash cams in their cars, much less body cams on their uniforms. So, conveniently, with the officer’s own report not being written down until AFTER more than a wee of publicity, as opposed to THAT NIGHT before going off duty, and no video evidence EITHER WAY, it will be very hard to determine the truth.

  • joe schmo

    Not my words but so true:

    “The vast majority of White people have for decades and decades tried to accommodate black culture with apparently no success. The Race baiters still push hatred. Then we get a half Black president who hates his White ancestry and has almost completely undone all the words of men like Dr. M.L. King. It’s time the black people try to help themselves.’

    I felt this article to be true….thanks Obama…..

    ‘Fewer African Americans say blacks and whites get along well today than felt that way in 2009, according to a new Pew Research Center/USA Today poll. From 2007 to 2009, the number of black respondents who said blacks and whites get along “very well” or “pretty well” increased seven percentage points, to 76 percent. But since 2009, the share of black respondents who had a positive view of race relations has dropped twelve points, to 64 percent. Similarly, white respondents who thought blacks and whites got along well increased three percentage points from 2007 to 2009, but decreased five percentage points from 2009 to 2014.

    The poll also found that 70 percent of black respondents thought police did a poor job of treating racial and ethnic groups equally, while just 25 percent of whites say they do a bad job. Democrats were more critical of police performance than Republicans, and but Pew found that much of the discrepancy could be attributed to the views of African-American Democrats.’

    What about we let the Blacks police themselves…… Time to take responsibility for your actions and not lean so much on the government.

    • Allan Richardson

      In the 19th century, when the Irish were considered (by non-Irish) to be mostly criminals, and Irish neighborhoods had lots of violence (there’s a reason police vans got the name Paddy Wagon), police departments in our largest cities began to be a preferred career for honest young Irishmen (and a few not so honest, of course). So it might be a good idea to hire police from the neighborhoods they will be patrolling, whenever possible. Thanks for a good idea!

    • cissy969

      when a black poilce officer kill your white son for walking in the street.I will be the first to protest otherwise shut the hell up

  • ExRadioGuy15

    The “low confidence” most Americans have in the police treating races equally is clearly justified….
    Remember a few things: police are overwhelmingly Republican. They share in the GOP’s Fascist ideology. Fascist regimes, like the GOP, create a “protected class” that enjoy all of the rights all humans SHOULD have. But, if you’re not a member of the “protected class”, you can be treated unfairly.
    If the GOP and police departments want me to stop correctly calling them Fascists or adherents to Fascist ideology, they need to stop being Fascists or adhering to the principles of Fascism. Easy for me to say/write, tough for the Fascists to do….

  • idamag

    Many, many years ago, I was waiting to pick up my husband, who got off work at midnight. I was parked in the Penney’s parking lot with the lights out. Across the street was a sleeze bar. A Native American man staggered out and two policemen stopped their patrol car and proceeded to beat him up. He wasn’t resisting them or anything. While they were brutalizing the man, a stumbling drunk woman exited the bar and got in her car and drove away. About fifteen years ago, I was driving home for lunch and passing a restaurant. As I got even with the patrol car, it started to back out and motioned for me to back up. If he was on a call and in a hurry I would have been passed in less time than it took me to back up.