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Police-Initiated Contacts Fall By 8 million

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(Chris Yarzab)

Police-Initiated Contacts Fall By 8 million

Highlights

There are significant drops in police-initiated public contact.

Regardless of demographics, the great majority of people contacted believe that the police officers involved behaved properly.

This report supplements data from Gallup indicating that law enforcement is one of the most respected organizations in America.

Introduction

The Bureau of Justice Statistics of the US Department of Justice asked residents about instances when they sought help from police (resident-initiated contacts) and when police approached or stopped them (police-initiated contacts), thus the following could be seen as a report card as to citizen perceptions of law enforcement.

Keep in mind that violent crime decreased from 2011 to 2014 with increases in 2015, 2016 and was flat during 2017, thus the reporting period (2011-1015) involved fewer violent crimes. Property crimes also decreased throughout the period, thus police reactive and self-initiated contacts could be influenced by these numbers, Crime in America.

The larger issue is police perceptions of citizen support, harsh media criticism and the willingness of officers to take self-initiated actions. There is evidence that proactive policing reduces crime. There is additional evidence that police officers are increasingly reluctant to engage in aggressive law enforcement, Crime in America.

The bottom line is that there are fewer self-initiated contacts with the public but when any contacts are made, the public, regardless as to demographics, overwhelmingly believe that the police officers involved behaved properly.

Demographics as to race and ethnic background and satisfaction with police still need attention.

This report supplements data from Gallup indicating that law enforcement is one of the most respected organizations in America.

With concerns regarding #metoo, it’s interesting that females (11%) were more likely to initiate contact with police than males (10%). Females were more likely to report crimes.

Bureau of Justice Statistics Report

The portion of U.S. residents age 16 or older who had experienced contact with the police in the preceding 12 months declined from 26 percent in 2011 to 21 percent in 2015, the Bureau of Justice Statistics announced this week.

The number of residents who had experienced contact with police dropped by more than 9 million people, from 62.9 million to 53.5 million during the period.

From 2011 to 2015, the number of persons who had contact that was police-initiated fell by 8 million, and the number of persons who initiated contact with police fell by 6 million.

Every form of police-initiated traffic and criminal stops (including arrests) fell considerably.

In 2015, whites (23 percent) were more likely than blacks (20 percent) or Hispanics (17 percent) to have had contact with police in the prior 12 months.

Police were equally likely to initiate contact with blacks and whites (11 percent each) but were less likely to initiate contact with Hispanics (9 percent).

Police were more likely to initiate contact with males (12 percent) than with females (9 percent), while females (11 percent) were more likely to initiate contact with police than males (10 percent).

Females (11%) were more likely to initiate contact with police than males (10%). Females were more likely to report crimes.

Among those who had contact with police, two percent experienced a nonfatal threat or use of force by police. The majority of those who experienced a threat of force (84 percent) perceived the action to be excessive, as did most of those who were pushed, grabbed, hit or kicked (78 percent), or had a gun pointed at them (65 percent) by police.

When police initiated the contact, blacks (5.2 percent) and Hispanics (5.1 percent) were more likely to experience the threat or use of physical force than whites (2.4 percent), and males (4.4 percent) were more likely to experience the threat or use of physical force than females (1.8 percent).

Being a driver in a traffic stop (8.6 percent) was the most common form of police-initiated contact. The primary reason police gave for pulling over a driver was speeding (41 percent).

Most drivers who were stopped for speeding said the stop was legitimate (91 percent) and that police behaved properly (95 percent). A lower percentage of drivers believed that police behaved properly (56 percent) or that the stop was for a legitimate reason (37 percent) when police did not give a reason for the stop.

Blacks were more likely to be pulled over in traffic stops than whites and Hispanics.

Being a driver in a traffic stop was the most common form of police-initiated contact. Of the 223.3 million U.S. drivers age 16 or older, 8.6% experienced a stop as the driver of a motor vehicle.

A greater percentage of males (10.2%) than females (7.0%) were pulled over as the driver in a traffic stop. Blacks (9.8%) were more likely than whites (8.6%) and Hispanics (7.6%) to be the driver in a traffic stop although the numerical difference is 13 million stops for whites versus 2.5 million for blacks.

Across age groups, drivers ages 18 to 24 (14.8%) were most likely to be pulled over.

Whites were more likely than blacks, Hispanics, and persons of other races to contact police to report a crime, a non-crime emergency, or to seek help for some other reason.

Residents were more likely to be pulled over multiple times as the driver in a traffic stop (13%) than stopped multiple times in a street stop (9%).

Among those whose most recent contact was police-initiated, males (8%) were more likely than females (5%) to have that contact be a street stop, blacks (9%) were more likely than whites (6%) to have it be a street stop, and persons ages 16 to 17 were more likely to experience a street stop.

The majority of residents who contacted police thought that police improved the situation.

Perceptions of Police Conduct and Street Stops

Sixty percent of residents who were stopped by police in a street stop thought the reason was legitimate, and 81% believed police behaved properly.

Residents’ perceptions of the legitimacy of the street stop and whether police behaved properly varied by demographic characteristics. Females (69%) were more likely than males (55%) to perceive the street stop as legitimate.

Females (88%) were also more likely than males (77%) to believe that police behaved properly.

A greater percentage of whites (68%) than blacks (50%) and Hispanics (44%) indicated the street stop was legitimate. Whites (89%) were also more likely than Hispanics (73%) and blacks (59%) to believe police behaved properly.

Satisfaction

More than 9 in 10 (91%) residents who contacted police to request assistance said they were more or as likely to contact police again in the future. The vast majority (83%) of residents were satisfied with the police response during their most recent contact and felt that police responded promptly (83%) and behaved properly (89%). More than half (59%) indicated that police improved the situation.

Hispanics who contacted police to request assistance were less likely than whites to believe that police responded promptly, improved the situation, or behaved properly. Hispanics (76%) were also less likely than whites (85%) to be satisfied with the police response. Compared to whites (92%), lower percentages of blacks (90%), Hispanics (88%), and persons of other races (89%) indicated they were more or as likely to contact police in the future.

Contacts with Law Enforcement-Chart

Source

Bureau of Justice Statistics 

———

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. Former advisor to the “McGruff-Take a Bite Out of Crime” national media campaign. Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University. You can contact me at leonardsipes@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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