Facts matter: Data shows increase of support for police by blacks and Hispanics

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[Editor’s Note: All quotes below are edited and rearranged for brevity. Please refer to the links for the full report. Additional reports that are not necessarily race-related are offered.]

A reporter inquired about a new Hill-Harris poll (below). He suggested that it indicated the state of relations between law enforcement and African Americans.

My response is this article showing a wide range of data indicating that African Americans have a generally supportive but complicated relationship with cops.

Considering the history of police conduct on a wide range of historic and current issues, apprehension makes sense. But black Americans plus others are being hammered by violence and cops remain an important (or the most important) variable as to their safety.

Below are a variety of statistics providing an overview of data on race, ethnicity, crime and law enforcement.

Some indicate relations between law enforcement and people of color have gotten worse but most suggest that there is considerable support.

Beyond The Polls-DOJ Data

See DOJ Data on Race And Crime for information beyond polling data.

Background

Violent crime and fear of crime are skyrocketing. Gun and security sales are going through the roof. People are leaving cities, US Crime Rates.

News reports suggest that the cities where protests and or riots have occurred are being hit the hardest, Governing.Com.

It’s African American communities that are bearing the brunt of the violence, NBC News.

There are articles linking police defunding and lack of proactive policing to increased homicides and violence, Washington Times.

There were 722 more homicides in nine U.S. cities last year, according to police data. More than 85% of the increase was in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods, The Marshall Project.

Hill-Harris Poll

From The Crime Report: A plurality of voters said relations between the police and people of color have gotten worse in the past year, a new Hill-HarrisX poll finds.

Forty-five percent of registered voters surveyed said relations between police and communities of color have regressed while 43% said they have stayed the same.

By contrast, just 12% of respondents said that relations have gotten better.

Of those surveyed, 48% of black voters said relations between the police and people of color have gotten worse while 32% said they have stayed the same and 20% said they have improved.

Fifty-eight percent of Hispanic voters said things have stayed the same when it came to the relationship between police and people of color, while 28% said they’ve gotten worse and 15% said better.

Forty-eight percent of white voters said things have gotten worse between the police and minorities while 42% said they’ve stagnated and 10% said they’ve improved.

Pluralities of Democrats and Republicans said relations between the police and people of color have grown worse in the last year, at 50% and 46%, respectively.

Poll: Relationship Between Police and People of Color Worsened in Last Year

Estimates As To Police Killings Of Unarmed Black Men By Law Enforcement Routinely Wrong-The Skeptic

In a chart offered by The Skeptic, people (based on political affiliation) estimated the number of unarmed black men killed by law enforcement in 2019.

Estimates ranged from 100 to 1,000 to 10,000 to more than 10,000 with those claiming a liberal affiliation leading the way as to higher estimates. However, all groups including moderates to conservatives grossly exaggerated the numbers.

According to the Washington Post database, regarded by Nature magazine as the “most complete database,” 13 unarmed black men were fatally shot by police in 2019. According to a second database called “Mapping Police Violence”, compiled by data scientists and activists, 27 unarmed black men were killed by police (by any means) in 2019.

The Skeptic

Who Kills Black Americans?

Tens of thousands of African Americans have been murdered since the increase in violence in 2015 (after the Ferguson and Baltimore incidents). The overwhelming number of perpetrators are black. It’s the same for aggravated assaults (attacks with a weapon). This is compared to approximately 200-250 police deadly shootings involving African Americans a year, Statista.

For the last five years, police have fatally shot about 1,000 civilians annually, the vast majority of whom were armed or otherwise dangerous. Black people account for about 23% of those shot and killed by police; they are about 13% of the U.S. population, Manhattan Institute. Additional media outlets offer similar data.

Black Cops Increase By 60 Percent-Hispanic Officers Quadrupled

There were 11.5% fewer officers per capita in 2016 than there were in 1987.

Both the number and share of female officers have increased over time. The number of female officers more than doubled from 1987 to 2016, increasing by 112%, while their share grew from 7.6% to 12.3% of local officers during that same period.

The number and share of black officers have increased by about 60% from 1987 to 2016, at which time black people made up 11.4% of police personnel and 13% of the U.S. population. By contrast, the share of Hispanic officers has quadrupled since 1987, rising to 12.5% of officers in 2016, but remains lower than the share of Hispanics/Latinos in the general population (18%), Black-Women and Hispanic Officers Increase.

Gallup-Black Americans Want Cops In Their Communities 

When asked whether they want the police to spend more time, the same amount of time or less time than they currently do in their area, most black Americans — 61% — want the police presence to remain the same. This is similar to the 67% of all U.S. adults preferring the status quo, including 71% of white Americans.

Meanwhile, nearly equal proportions of black Americans say they would like the police to spend more time in their area (20%) as say they’d like them to spend less time there (19%).

These findings are from a Gallup Panel survey conducted as part of the newly launched Gallup Center on Black Voices. The study includes large samples of black, Hispanic and Asian Americans, weighted to their correct proportions of the population.

Gallup-Black Americans Lack Assurance Police Encounters Will Go Well

Although black Americans seem about as comfortable as Americans overall with the amount of police presence where they live, they differ markedly in their perceptions of how their local police might treat them if they were to interact.

Fewer than one in five black Americans feel very confident that the police in their area would treat them with courtesy and respect. While similar to the 24% of Asian Americans saying the same, it is markedly lower than the 40% of Hispanic Americans and the 56% of white Americans who feel this way.

This could either stem from black Americans’ own negative experiences with the police or from their familiarity with people who have had negative encounters with law enforcement.

Gallup

70 Percent of Black Americans Support Law Enforcement

A CBS News/YouGov poll released this week found that 70% of “black Americans” said that local police are doing a “very good” or “somewhat good” job. The poll results also indicated that 82% of “whites” and 77% of “Hispanics” said police were doing a “very or somewhat good job.”

Trust in Law Enforcement-New Data-USA Today 

Trust in local police and law enforcement has risen to 69%.

Among black respondents, trust in Black Lives Matter has fallen by 12 points and trust in local police has risen by 14 points. Among white respondents, trust in Black Lives Matter has fallen by eight points and trust in local police has risen by 12 points.

In the wake of the Jan. 6 event at the Capitol, the scales have tipped toward law enforcement. By double digits, 49%-31%, those surveyed say it is more important to ensure law and order.

USA Today

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LET Unity

Defunding The Police-USA Today 

Support to redistribute police department funding has decreased among Americans since August after a summer of protests had erupted across the country against racial injustice and police brutality, a recent Ipsos/USA TODAY poll found.

Only 18% of respondents supported the movement known as “defund the police,” and 58% said they opposed it. Though white Americans (67%) and Republicans (84%) were much more likely to oppose the movement, only 28% of black Americans and 34% of Democrats were in favor of it.

But respondents were less opposed to the idea of redirecting police funds to social services, though a 57% majority was still against the idea. Forty-three percent of Americans supported the idea. Those numbers represented a slight decline from August, after the peak of the protests, when 53% were opposed and 47% were in favor of redirecting police spending.

USA Today

Gallup-Fragile Communities Believe That Cops Are Fair

Even in fragile communities (i.e., high unemployment), a study finds that 74% of fragile-community residents vs. 87% of Americans overall think people like themselves are treated “very fairly” or “fairly” by their local police.

The results vary by racial group: Black (65%) and Hispanic (72%) residents of fragile communities are considerably less likely than white residents (87%) to say people like themselves are treated fairly by police, Gallup.

Gallup-Fragile Communities Want More Cops

Sixty-eight percent of Chicago’s “fragile community” (i.e., low income) residents want a greater police presence.

Fifty-four percent of low-income communities nationally want more police officers, Fragile Communities.

Nine Out of 10 Residents Felt The Police Were Respectful-Force (Or Threat) Used In Less Than Two Percent Of Contacts

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 contacts, about nine out of 10 residents felt the police were respectful or acted properly, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Having said this, it’s inevitable that out of 40 million yearly encounters, some will go bad. It’s a statistical reality.

Per the Bureau of Justice Statistics study, police used or threatened to use force in less than two percent of contacts.

Police Citizen Contacts-Force (Or Threat) Used In Less Than Three Percent Of Contacts

Some media commentators suggest that police use of force is growing/common/frequent during stops.

Less than three percent of U.S. residents experienced a threat “or” use of force during their most recent police-initiated contact.

Contrary to media reports, the use of force decreased for police-initiated contacts from 3.3 to 2.8 percent.

Contrary to criticspolice-initiated arrests decreased considerably, 815,000 in 2015-386,000 in 2018.

There are suggestions that public confidence and a willingness to interact with law enforcement declined. Contact with law enforcement increased, 53,496,000 in 2015-61,542,000 in 2018. Most of this was resident-initiated (27,060,000 in 2015-35,468,000 in 2018).

The lowest and highest income household incomes had the same amount of police-initiated contact (11.4-11.5 percent), thus contradicting those who argue that proactive police contact is directed solely towards low-income communities, Police Myths

Gallup-US And Canadian Police Are The World’s Most Trusted

Gallup’s 2018 Global Law and Order report state that US and Canadian police are the world’s most trusted law enforcement officers, Most Trusted.

Gallup-The Majority Of Americans Rate Police Encounters As Positive, Respectful and Fair

The data below was collected as nationwide protests took place after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. They are based on a June 23-July 6 Gallup survey.

Seventy-five percent of respondents said that their police interaction was a positive experience including most Hispanic and black individuals polled.

Eighty-six percent of respondents said that they were treated with respect including most Hispanic and black individuals polled.

Eighty-nine percent of respondents said they were treated fairly including most Hispanic and black individuals polled.

Gallup

About One In Every 1,000 Black Men

Per the National Academy of Sciences, over the life course, about one in every 1,000 black men can expect to be killed by police, National Academy of Sciences.

Black men are about 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police over the life course than are white men, National Academy of Sciences.

Black Homicide Victims

There were 7,484 Black homicide victims in the US in 2019, Statista. Eighty-eight point five percent of black victims are killed by non-police black perpetrators, Reuters, while 241 blacks were killed by law enforcement in 2020, compared to 457 whites and 169 Hispanics, Statista.

Arrests Proportionate To Involvement In Crime

Some civil rights leaders insist that Blacks are overrepresented as to arrests. As to overall arrests, per the US Department of Justice, “White and black people were arrested proportionate to their involvement in serious nonfatal violent crime overall and proportionate to their involvement in serious nonfatal violent crime reported to police,” USDOJ Data On Race And Crime.

Conclusions

Writing about race and violence, however impartially, is filled with pitfalls. Objectivity and data often take a back seat to ideology and strong emotions.

We all hate racist people. Cops are held to a high standard. We within the justice system are here to serve, nothing more, nothing less.

We understand the animosity between law enforcement and African and Hispanic Americans. We know the history of cops and past repressions. We’ve all seen officers with dogs brutally confront civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s. Police enforced Jim Crow laws in the south.

We’ve also heard the statements of current civil rights leaders and the charge that cops are unjustifiably killing and otherwise harming African Americans in alarming numbers.

But per endless media accounts, we are losing a lot of cops. Recruitment is down 63% per the Police Executive Research Forum. Officers are no longer willing to be proactive and violence in many cities is going through the roof. The lack of cops or the lack of proactivity is connected to rising violence.

And its minority communities are being hit the hardest.

Many police officers regardless of race are leaving because they believe that the public no longer supports or wants them, but that simply isn’t true. Multiple polls indicate that blacks and Hispanics support law enforcement.

Polling data indicates that law enforcement is one of the most respected professions in America with the widespread support of most. Yes, there are differences as to race but regardless of demographics, the majority of those polled want, respect and support cops, Public Opinion and Cops.

It’s not so much the volume of interactions black or Hispanic Americans have with the police that troubles them or differentiates them from other racial groups, but rather the quality of those interactions.

Most black Americans want the police to spend at least as much time in their area as they currently do, indicating that they value the service that police provide. However, that exposure comes with more trepidation for black than White or Hispanic Americans about what they might experience in a police encounter.

But critics of law enforcement need to pay attention to the data and temper their opinions before we lose more cops and violence in cities gets worse, CNN.

The problem with intense violence is that minority communities suffer the most. At the moment, police proactivity may be the only modality that works per research, Proactive Policing.


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