The Majority of Americans Think Something's Seriously Wrong With Police Officers

The news: When a nation's law enforcement inspires more fear and distrust than confidence, it's time to seriously reexamine in the system.

A new national poll conducted by Reason-Rupe reveals that police brutality and corruption remain concerns for the majority of the American public. The unfavorable attitudes toward the police were more prevalent among minority groups that are more likely to face racial profiling and discrimination by the police.


For the most part, the vast majority of respondents answered that they still have favorable views of the police:


Image Credit: Reason-Rupe

But half of the survey participants believed that the police were generally not held accountable for their misconduct. That number rose to 66% for African Americans and 64% for Latino Americans.


Image Credit: Reason-Rupe

The lack of confidence in police conduct was even more visible when the poll asked whether police interactions with civilians should be recorded. An overwhelming majority believed that arrests and other altercations should be taped on the record.


Image Credit: Reason-Rupe

In addition, 41% of respondents answered that police misconduct — excessive force, corruption — has increased in the past decade; 48% said it has stayed the same while only 9% said it has decreased.

What does this mean? A recent string of high-profile police brutality cases has certainly done little to improve the public image of American law enforcement. The recent Albuquerque shooting of a mentally ill, homeless man has sparked national outrage over what seems to be excessive use of police force.

At the same time, technology has made it so much easier to record and share violent police encounters with the public. A video of the Albuquerque shooting was recorded by a camera mounted on one of the officers and allows the viewer to see that lethal action may not have been necessary. Another viral video from last month showed a small town police force beating the drunk patrons of a bar.

Still, in spite of all the negative backlash, the Reason-Rupe polls shows America's enduring faith in the nation's finest. Though there is little confidence in the system, fixing it would not only do justice to the American public, but also to the brave men and women who deserve credit for serving their country.

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Eileen Shim

Eileen is a writer living in New York. She studied comparative literature and international studies at Yale University, and enjoys writing about the intersection of culture and politics.

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