Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Limited Black Confidence in Police

A Pew Research Center survey in 2007 found that blacks remain broadly distrustful of the police in the communities where they live. Only about half (55%) of all African Americans express confidence in the police to do a good job enforcing the law, just 38% are confident police will refrain from using excessive force on crime suspects and just 37% are confident that the police will treat all races equally. Black attitudes toward the police contrast sharply with those of whites. For example, whites are twice as likely as blacks to say they have confidence in their local police to treat blacks and whites equally (74% vs. 37%); similarly large differences emerge on each of the other two questions. These differences are even greater if the comparison is limited just to the proportion of blacks and whites that expressed “a great deal” of confidence in police. Here, whites are more than twice as likely as blacks to express strong support for police to enforce the law (47% vs. 21%) and much more likely to have a great deal of confidence in police to avoid excessive force (42% vs. 11%) and treat the races equally (42% vs. 14%). While the views of Hispanics tend to be closer to those of whites on questions of black discrimination, Latino attitudes are closer to black attitudes on questions measuring confidence in the local police. For example, 45% of Hispanics have confidence in the police to treat blacks and whites equally and 37% of blacks share that view — compared with nearly three-quarters of whites (74%). Read More