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One third of Americans believe police lie routinely

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Do police officers "routinely lie to serve their own interests?" Thirty-one percent of Americans believe they do, and that number rises to 45% among African-Americans, 41% among young people and 39% among Democrats. Republicans reject that charge three to one (60 to 20%).

Those numbers come from a national poll of Americans just conducted by Reuters and the Ipsos polling organization. Still, the image of the police is more controversial than the reality.

Asked whether they approve of the job being done by "your local police department," nearly three-quarters of Americans say they approve. Approval is high among African-Americans (56%) as well as whites (77%), among Democrats (72%) as well as Republicans (84 percent).

On the other hand, the public is divided over whether "Police officers tend to unfairly target minorities" (37% agree, 43% disagree). African-Americans and Latinos believe the police do target minorities (69% and 54%, respectively). Fewer than a third of whites feel that way (29%).

The racist image of the police is strongly influenced by politics. A majority of Democrats (53%) believe the police unfairly target minorities. Only 19% of Republicans agree.

Young people don't trust the police. That's not surprising. They're the ones most likely to get into trouble. In the Reuters poll, young people were more than twice as likely as seniors to endorse the view that police officers tend to unfairly target minorities (53% among Americans under 30, 25% among those 60 and older).

These days, young Americans are much more likely than seniors to live in a multicultural world and to interact with minorities. Even young whites were more than twice a s likely as white seniors to brand the police as racist (42% of young whites but only 20% of white seniors).

Do Americans "trust the police to be fair and just?" Most do (53%). But that, too, is a political issue. Only 30% of African-Americans, 43% of young people and 47% of Democrats say they trust the police to be fair and just. Trust in the police is much higher among seniors (67%) and Republicans (70%).

Overall, these findings are reminiscent of research showing that Americans tend to be highly critical of Congress, while they hold a favorable view of "your own congressman." That's why they regularly re-elect over 90 percent of congressional incumbents even while denouncing the institution.

Education researchers have found that college students tend to give low marks when asked to assess the quality of teaching in their schools. However, when asked to rate the quality of the teacher in the most recent class they attended, the marks come out much higher.

The same rule appears to apply to people's view of the police: "The police may tend to be unfair and racist, but police officers around here are OK."

The poll also asked people whether they have a favorable impression of the Ferguson police department. Very few Americans have any experience with the Ferguson police department. They probably didn't even know Ferguson was a town in Missouri a year ago. Only 21,000 people live there, out of 316 million Americans. What the public knows about the Ferguson police is what they see on television and read in the news.

And that is intensely political - and racial. Sixty-two percent of Americans say they have a favorable impression of the Ferguson police. But there's a huge difference between African-Americans (32% favorable) and whites (69%). Republicans are overwhelmingly favorable to the Ferguson police (85%). Democrats are divided (51% favorable, 49% unfavorable).

One question was surprisingly less divisive: "Would you approve of your children (or future children) becoming police officers?" Americans as a whole say yes, 59 to 22%. Young people? 68% yes. Democrats? 58% yes. African-Americans? More tentative, but still favorable. By 45 to 30%, blacks approve of their children becoming police officers. In this case, reality - "It's a good job" - is more positive than image.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2015.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

13 Comments
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They might want to take a pole like this but base it on education.

Those with Graduate degrees or higher. Those with college degrees. Those with some college. Those with a HS degree. Those with less than a HS degree.

I be there would be some interesting stats on that one.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Edu: Graduate degree or higher.

A: Does a bear poop in the woods?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

When the police question a person they will lie like rugs to get a response. It's Not against the law as far as is known but is quite unethical!- Best Bet is "Lawyer Up" and use your Right to Remain Silent,You'll be glad you did!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

And I believe that 99% of all human beings lie routinely (police or not).

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Police reputation takes another hit.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I'd rather be interrogated by an American cop than a Japanese one. At least the US has videotaping, and a functioning justice system with clear procedures.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Majority of the police officers are decent hard-working officers doing their job according to the laws and policies of their agencies and protect society. But don't ever talk to a police officer if you are overseas especially in America. There communication style is rude and arrogant. Few communicate politely. That is why some members of the public lack trust in the police. Police officers should take the time to show kindness, understanding, consideration when interacting with others especially those who may be distrustful. A officer that uses communication skills to affect voluntary compliance whenever possible will not have to resort to physical coercion. Fortunately Japanese police are generally well-regarded. In the end to be effective, police officers should communicate in a style that is sensitive to the values, customs, and needs of a variety of community members within a given culture.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

In the end to be effective, police officers should communicate in a style that is sensitive to the values, customs, and needs of a variety of community members within a given culture.

Left-wing drivel.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

@Novenachama I think if you speak to a police officer as a friend or as someone looking for information, they will be plenty polite, even in the US. No one wants to go through the hassle of arresting someone needlessly.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

One third of Americans believe police lie routinely...

One third of Americans also believe in UFOs, and a large number believe that the UN is controlled by the Illuminati or some other insane guff... These polls are there purely to sell newspapers and to provoke discussion.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Ah, two thirds have so much faith? I am surprised.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Everyone lies. Based on almost every cop show I've seen on TV, police lie during questioning too. I've been taught to never answer police questions, unless there isn't any choice to avoid arrest. Then only answer with the shortest possible answer that is true. A famous video about this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc

A brother-in-law was a retired cop. He had lots of interesting stories from 3 different police departments around the country where he worked which makes me think average police are a little less trustworthy than my normal peers. Sometimes they behave like drunk sailors on leave.

I must admit, the last paragraph in the story completely lost me. Couldn't follow it at all.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

the problems is we have too many laws. A Law at the end of the day can be enforced with up to and including lethal force. If we started pairing down the unneeded laws, this would not be as problematic

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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