Americans broadly think that the police forces in their cities do a good job at “protecting the safety and rights” of minority communities, according to a poll released Monday. But that support erodes somewhat among members of minority groups, especially black Americans.
Sixty-two percent of adults said that they believed their police departments did a good job of protecting minorities, while 32 percent said they did not, according to a poll conducted by Zogby Analytics for The United States Conference of Mayors.
Among racial groups, whites were most likely to believe that their local police force was doing a good job at protecting minorities. Sixty-six percent said that their local police force did good job, while 29 percent said it did not.
While 50 percent of African-Americans still said that their police department did a good job of policing minority communities, 43 percent said that their police force did a fair or poor job.
Democrats are also less likely to say that their local police officers protect the rights and safety of minority groups than Republicans.
The respondents were not polled on their attitude toward police overall, just on their views of the police force in their cities. The poll was conducted using an online panel of 2,425 adults from Dec. 19 through Dec. 22. It has a margin of error of 2 percentage points.
The way police officers treat members of minority groups has come under scrutiny in recent months. The killings of two unarmed black men — 18-year-old Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York — by police officers who were not indicted have led to widespread protests calling for policing reforms.
Those calls have been recognized in Washington. Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder said that there needed to be a greater effort to gather data on how police use force, and how it is used against them. The president also called for a review of police militarization.
Other polls released in the wake of the protests have shown a much more widespread distrust of the police.
A December poll found that 82 percent of African-Americans believed that the decision of the Missouri and New York grand juries not to indict the officers who killed Brown and Garner indicated that the criminal justice system treated blacks differently than whites. Seventy percent of whites said that they were isolated incidents.
Only 37 percent of black Americans said in a poll last August that they had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in police, compared to 59 percent of white Americans.