A new national poll conducted by Reason-Rupe reveals something most of us have known for a long time — a lot of Americans are concerned about police brutality and corruption.
The poll reveals while most Americans have a favorable attitude towards the police, the opposite is true for most minorities have. Reason: minorities are most likely to be subjected to racial profiling and discrimination by the police.
Half of the survey respondents believed that the police were generally not held accountable for their misconduct. That number rose to 66% for blacks and 64% for Latinos.
The poll also found that the lack of confidence in the police is even more evident when participants were asked whether police interactions with civilians should be recorded. An overwhelming majority believe that arrests and other arguments with the police should be taped.
Additionally, 41% of respondents believe police misconduct, involving the use of excessive force and corruption, has increased from the last 10 years. While 48% said police misconduct has remained the same, only 9% said it has decreased.
So, what does this all mean?
Considering a string of high-profile police misconduct cases, law enforcement agents have done very little to improve their public image. For example, James Murdough, a mentally-ill Marine vet, baked to death in his Rikers Island jail cell, after he was arrested for trespassing for trespassing in the enclosed stairwell on the roof of a Harlem public housing project. He was only seeking a warm place to sleep to get away from the bitterly cold weather.
Another mentally-ill man, James Boyd, was shot in the back by Albuquerque police officers. The Department of Justice has launched an investigation into the case.
D’Andre Berghardt Jr. was gunned down by two law enforcement officers on a Nevada highway. He was unarmed and could be seen on video trying to evade the officers, who responded with deadly force. Two men observing the police stop deemed the horror that unfolded before them as “redneck justice.”
Marcus Jeter was exonerated by a dashcam video after he was wrongfully arrested by two officers with the Bloomfield Police Department. He faced a myriad of charges, including eluding police and assault. He was cleared after the dashcam video contradicted the version of events given by the Bloomfield officers. The officers were indicted for falsifying reports. One has been charged with assault.
Technology has made it much easier to record and share violent law enforcement encounters with the general public. What’s more is that those videos are coming from law enforcement via cameras mounted on the officers or dashcams that allow the viewer to see the brutality.
Despite the negative attitudes towards police, the Reason-Rupe polls show that American still have faith in law enforcement. The system needs to be fixed and rogue cops weeded out. We can’t lose sight of the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of decent law enforcement officers out there who are serving their respective departments and the general public with dignity.