Perception of Police Varies By Race

In news that will surprise probably no one, recent polling by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press finds that:

” A majority of the African Americans surveyed, for example, said police departments do a poor job of holding officers accountable for misconduct (70 percent), of treating racial and ethnic groups equally (70 percent), and of using the appropriate amount of force in specific situations (57 percent) — compared with 27 percent, 25 percent, and 23 percent of white Americans.”

Other findings include that 46% of African Americans had “very little” confidence in police departments ability to treat Black people and white people equally.

Given that this poll was conducted amidst the recent conflicts in Ferguson, these poll numbers are hardly shocking. This is even more true when one considers the steady drum beat of revelations about how the Ferguson police department has conducted itself for years prior to Michael Brown’s death.

Here, for example, are some of the recent findings from the nonprofit group ArchCity Defenders about the Ferguson PD‘s stops and searches:

Whites comprise 29% of the population of Ferguson but just 12.7% of vehicle stops. After being stopped in Ferguson, blacks are almost twice as likely as whites to be searched (12.1% vs. 6.9%) and twice as likely to be arrested (10.4% vs. 5.2%).”

Lest anyone contend that blacks inherently merit greater police attention than whites, the report offers another statistic.

“Searches of black individuals result in discovery of contraband only 21.7% of the time, while similar searches of whites produce contraband 34.0% of the time.

In other words, Ferguson’s Black community is stopped far more often despite holding contraband less of the time. The over-policing of the Black community in Ferguson means that, according to the Daily Beast, there is “an average of 1.5 cases and three warrants per Ferguson household.”

It’s not particularly surprising the African Americans would see these figures and doubt that police departments are playing fair. It’s unfortunate that more White respondents don’t perceive the same reality.

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