Public wants means to review policing practices
Saint Leo, FL, October 28 - A new nationwide survey by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute found 86.8 percent of respondents either strongly or somewhat agreed that police officers should be required to wear body cameras to better assist in reviewing difficult incidents, while 79 percent said the U.S. Department of Justice should continue to open investigations of community police departments following controversial incidents.
However, in another section, where people were asked to rate the quality and professionalism of their local departments and their local officers on a numerical scale, more respondents gave departments good scores than gave them poor scores.
"In general, people like their police, and even sympathize with police officers, but they want to make sure that they are also responsible for their actions," said Dr. Eloy Nuñez, associate professor in the Department of Public Safety Administration at Saint Leo University. "People like the police when then need them, but they don't like them when they get a ticket or get arrested, or when they're too slow to respond to arrive at a call for service. There's an acceptance that police are needed to maintain order in our society, but no one likes to be on the receiving end of punitive action. As a result, there will always be a duality about the public's perception of the police."
A deeper look into the base of national responses collected on all the questions above tends to show differences in perceptions according to race.
Where the overall support level for requiring police to wear body cameras was already high at 86.8 percent, it was even higher among African-American respondents at 93.8 percent; among Hispanics at 90.6 percent; and a bit lower among whites at 84.7 percent.
As for seeking further DOJ investigatory effort in controversial cases, where support was high in the overall population at 79 percent, it was higher among African-Americans at 91.1 percent; higher also among Hispanics at 83 percent; and supported by 74.9 percent of whites.
Regarding local police department ratings, whereas 54.3 percent of the population overall assigned ratings considered good, only 41.8 percent of African-Americans assigned good ratings; 48 percent of Hispanics assigned good ratings; and 59 percent of whites assigned good ratings.
For more information, visit polls.saintleo.edu.