If it's in the News, it's in our Polls. Public opinion polling since 2003.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What America Thinks: Cops - Problem or Solution?

Police tactics are again in the news following an incident in suburban St. Louis when a police officer shot an unarmed black teenager in circumstances that are still under investigation but have already prompted violent protests. Are police officers a threat or a blessing as far as most Americans are concerned? We decided to find out what America thinks.

In a survey last month, Americans didn’t seem too concerned about police brutality where they live. For the most part, Americans have a favorable opinion of the police where they live and think we need more cops on the streets. Fifty-seven percent (57%) say the tactics used by their local police force are about right. Eighteen percent (18%) think they’re too harsh, though nearly as many think they’re not harsh enough.

An overwhelming majority of Americans still recognize that crime is a serious problem in the United States, but they think it’s a bigger problem that too many criminals are set free than that too many innocent people are arrested. Over half of adults of all races share this view, but blacks and other minority Americans are more skeptical than whites about innocent people going to jail. White Americans are the least likely to think police tactics are too harsh. In general, black Americans have a less favorable opinion of the police in their area than whites or other minority adults do. Nonetheless, they’re even more likely to think there are not enough cops in the country today.

Nearly half of all Americans still agree that the United States is safer than other countries around the world, though.

For Rasmussen Reports, I’m Alex Boyer. Remember, if it’s in the news, it’s in our polls.