Monday, January 9, 2017

Confidence and Respect for Police Hits High in 2016

Although the nation’s police forces have been on the defensive over civilian shootings and minority community relations, confidence and respect for police surged.

In 2016 in particular, attacks on police officers, along with a rising murder rate in a number of big cities, have engendered a strong reaction of support for police that spread into the presidential race. Law and order became a major theme, along with criminal justice reform. Attendance at memorials for both police and civilians were high-profile events in the campaigns./>
  • 76% report a “great deal of respect” for the police in their area, a 12 percent surge since last year (Gallup, October 5-9, 2016). Respect for police increased last year among both whites (80% up from 69%) and non-whites (64% up from 53%).
Police also ranked very high in comparative ratings of American institutions for “honesty and ethical standards” and for confidence.
  • Police were fifth from the top in a list of twenty-one professions for having a high or very high rating of “honesty and ethical standards” (56%). They ranked lower than medical professionals (nurses – 85%, pharmacists – 68% and doctors – 67%, and just behind teachers – 60%). At 56%, they ranked above clergy (45%), journalists (27%), business executives (15%) and Congress people (8%). (Gallup, December 2-6, 2016)
  • Police were third from the top in a list of fifteen institutions with more than half the public (56%) expressing a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence (Gallup, June 1-5, 2016). This observation was reinforced at the end of the year when NBC News/WSJ reported 59% of American adults rated police and law enforcement second behind the military (73%) in level of confidence with the American people. They are exceptions. The poll showed little confidence in major American institutions, such as the CIA (33%), public schools (31%) and the national news media (16%). 

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