Editorial

American Police – The World’s Most Trusted Per Gallup

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(Photo via Leonard Sipes)

American Police – The World’s Most Trusted Per Gallup

There are good cops and there are bad cops but regardless, the data states that overall, officers do a good job and are trusted by the public.

Introduction

I wrote numerous articles on policing in America and it’s obvious via social media that many (if not most) cops feel that they are under siege either literally or culturally. For example, 554,658 police officers were assaulted from 2007 to 2016.

Many officers feel that the public no longer holds them in high regard due to recent high-profile events. The data says the opposite. It’s time to publicize those findings.

You may feel that cops are either brutal thugs or trusted protectors, but the point remains that many officers doubt their commitment to their jobs. There are endless media reports of police officers leaving with recruitment becoming challenging. Officer exposure to violence, stress, PTSD, substance abuse and suicides are real problems.

It’s to the point where I asked in an article, ‘What Happens When We Run Out of Cops?” Crime in America. It’s happening now in corrections where prisons are simply running out of correctional officers, CBS.

I know of families telling their loved ones to get out of policing, and to get out now.

IMPD Officers Quitting
(Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Facebook)

Trust

As a former cop, interacting with people under challenging circumstances was part of the reward of the job. People saw you as a protector, a problem solver, someone they could trust. We were all aware of the history of policing and repression, but we were proud of the fact that we could transcend mistrust by actions, not just words.

If you take trust away, what’s the point of being a cop? Yes, video evidence gives us pause at times while we shake our heads at the actions of some officers, but an estimated 40 million U.S. residents age 16 or older, or about 17 percent of the population, had a face-to-face contact with a police officer in one year. Among people who had face-to-face contact, about nine out of 10 residents felt the police were respectful or acted properly, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

So the essential question is, do we trust cops?

11-year-old boy
Members of Hartford Police Department. (Hartford.gov)

Gallup

Gallup’s 2018 Global Law and Order report state that US and Canadian police are the world’s most trusted law enforcement officers based on a measure of confidence.

The report offers an observation repeated on this site and a number of criminologists; crime affects everything from schools to jobs to people’s willingness to invest in a community. High crime communities are simply detrimental to the prosperity of residents.

“Gallup sees strong relationships between people’s answers to questions about their own security and their own experiences with crime and law enforcement and external measures related to economic and social development. These relationships illustrate how high crime rates can often suppress social cohesion and negatively affect economic performance.”

“Gallup’s Law and Order Index uses four questions to gauge people’s sense of personal security and their personal experiences with crime and law enforcement:

In the city or area where you live, do you have confidence in the local police force?

Do you feel safe walking alone at night in the city or area where you live?

Within the last 12 months, have you had money or property stolen from you or another household member?

Within the past 12 months, have you been assaulted or mugged?”

“More than two in three adults worldwide (69%) said in 2017 that they have confidence in their local police. The results vary significantly by region, however, from a low of 42% in Latin America and the Caribbean to nearly double that in the U.S. and Canada (82%).”

Source: Gallup

reality faced
(Photo courtesy Richmond Police Department, Virginia)

Trust in American Policing Is at an All-time High

Overall confidence in the police has risen slightly in the past two years, with 57% of Americans now saying they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in law enforcement — matching the overall average for the 25-year Gallup trend.

The return to the historical average comes after confidence edged downward during the tumultuous years of 2014 and 2015.

Overall confidence fell from 57% in 2013 to 53% in June 2014, after the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the shooting death of black teenager Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman’s acquittal led to the founding of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Confidence in police then dropped to a record-tying low of 52% in June 2015, as the Black Lives Matter movement gained national attention with a series of protests against police shootings of unarmed blacks in New York City; Ferguson, Missouri; and North Charleston, South Carolina.

As violence continued over the past two years — with fatal police shootings of black men in Minnesota and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, followed by deadly attacks on police in Dallas and Baton Rouge by black men — the percentage of Americans confident in the police climbed back to 56% in June 2016 and to 57% last month.

Only two other institutions (the military and small business) of the 15 others measured this year scored higher than the police.

Cops are more respected than the Supreme Court, television news, religious organizations, schools, big business and the presidency, Crime in America.

early warning program
Police recruits salute during the playing of the National Anthem at the Chicago Police Department recruit graduation ceremony at Chicago’s Navy Pier Grand Ballroom March 30, 2015. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Jason Dorsey, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs)

Conclusion

Yes, I understand that both surveys are universal and they don’t apply to all Americans but nevertheless, American policing leads the world in trust and cops in America are more respected than most professions, including the media.

As we move through turbulent times, and as we rededicate ourselves to fair and equal treatment for everyone, we need to understand that the public trusts American cops. The reason why so many joined the ranks of policing remains the same; we understand that people need and want us in their lives.

We need to move beyond the stereotype that 900,00 officers are the same; that philosophy has the same foundations as any other type of “ism.” There are bad cops and there are wonderful cops but regardless, the data states that overall, officers do a good job and are trusted by Americans.

That’s something to be proud of.

Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. – Retired federal senior spokesperson. Thirty-five years of award-winning public relations for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Former Adjunct Associate Professor of criminology and public affairs-University of Maryland, University College. Former advisor to presidential and gubernatorial campaigns. Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University. You can contact me at crimeinamerica@gmail.com.

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Author
Leonard Sipes

Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. - Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Post-Masters’ Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University.

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