Americans’ Respect for Local Police Jumped To Highest Levels since 1967

Three-Quarters of Americans say they have great respect for their local police.  

The poll,  According to an October 24, 2016 Gallup poll 76% of Americans said they have “a great deal” of respect for police in their area, up 12 percentage points from last year. The poll revealed racial disparities in attitudes toward police, with 67% of nonwhites saying they have a great deal of respect for local police, compared with 80% of whites.

Gallup has asked this question nine times since 1965. The percentage who say they respect the police is significantly higher now than in any measurement taken since the 1990s and is just one point below the high of 77% recorded in 1967. Solid majorities of Americans have said they respect their local law enforcement in all polls conducted since 1965.

The findings follow high-profile fatal attacks on police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, and come amid ongoing protests over police shootings of black men across the country. “The sharp increase over the past year in professed respect for local law enforcement comes as many police say they feel they are on the defensive—both politically and for their lives while they are on duty—amid heated national discussions on police brutality and shootings,” writes Gallup analyst Justin McCarthy.

William Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, which represents about 240,000 law-enforcement officers, said the poll shows that Americans understand that videos of police killing people aren’t the whole picture. “The public understands that there are incidents where things go horribly wrong,” Mr. Johnson said. “They also understand that policing in the U.S. is the best in the world.”

In a separate poll Pew Research Center conducted before the police shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge, found that 56% of Americans had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in police, up from a 22-year low of 52% in 2015. In that poll, six in 10 Americans said they believe police killings of black people are a sign of a broader problem between blacks and police, while 39% say they are isolated incidents. Nearly eight of 10 black people said these deaths signal a larger problem, compared with 54% of whites.

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