The recruitment of cops is down 63 percent. Officers are calling in sick throughout the country. A DC police union survey says 71 percent of those polled are considering leaving.
Police public opinion polls are taking a beating.
Eighty-five percent of Americans either have a great deal or some confidence in law enforcement.
This is part of an ongoing series of articles to understand society’s reaction to police shootings, use of force, and to seek solutions. I will “try” to see both sides of the issue knowing full well that neither will see my critiques favorably.
Yea, I understand that many cops won’t like or accept the premise of this article. You’re pissed. You believe that the vast majority of cops are standup people who don’t abuse anyone. Cops are probably more dedicated to the racial and sexual equality of their brethren than most professions. You believe that officers want to do their jobs with as little friction as possible and go home to their families.
I also understand that detractors think I’m nuts (or worse). I’ve seen videos where they claim that a cop beat and stole the prosthetic legs of a protestor. I watched another video of a white cop chasing a three-year-old black girl after riding her Barbie electric car on a sidewalk. They REALLY believe this stuff is true.
But this article is written from the perspective of someone who spent the last fifty years in the justice system. I started out as a cop. I believe I have seen it all and sometimes it’s beneficial to pay attention to those of us who have been through this several times.
Yep, law enforcement is taking a public relations beating. In several cases, the bad news is deserved.
And yes, cops act emotionally when told that the vast majority of citizens, regardless as to who they are, still support them now and will do so in the future. Some don’t want to hear it. They’re convinced that the public has turned their backs on police officers.
The recruitment of cops is down 63 percent, Running Out Of Cops. Agencies are losing officers. Families are telling their police officer loved ones to get out of law enforcement, and to get out now.
Due to intense criticism, cops are holding back (not being proactive) in a multitude of cities and violence is increasing Arrests And Increasing Violence. Police officers are calling in sick in Atlanta and cities throughout the country. A DC police union survey says 71 percent of those polled are considering leaving, FOX DC.
Many officers suggest that communities are getting exactly what they demanded. “Put blinders on, respond to calls, do nothing else, go home and explore new jobs,” many have said via social media.
WeAre Not As Divided As We Seem
More than a couple of police officers have contacted me to ask if current conditions are permanent. As someone who became a cop during the tumultuous (understatement) decades of the 1960s and the 1970s, I can tell you with confidence that this will pass.
I’m not suggesting that we ignore our detractors. I’m not suggesting that law enforcement shouldn’t change. Innovation may be (and probably is) in our best interest.
There are an array of considerations regarding the defending of police agencies that many (most?) officers support, like having mental health professionals respond to calls instead of cops, which is long overdue, Defunding The Police. There are plenty of additional examples (i.e., enforcing Coronavirus restrictions).
Cops can’t be all things to all people which may be the heart and soul of the current troubles. Cities now will be forced to do what they should have done decades ago and citizens will pay for changes through increased taxes.
“We ask the police to do too much and we ask too little of ourselves,” said former President Barack Obama.
“Angry citizens, for their part, must acknowledge the dangers police face on the job,” the president said at an interfaith memorial service for Michael Smith, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarripa and Brent Thompson, the officers killed by Micah Johnson at a rally against police violence on Thursday night.
Obama called for action to stop the conflict between police and protesters and black and white, admitting previous approaches, including his own, are failing.
He added: “I understand how Americans are feeling. But, Dallas, I’m here to say we must reject such despair. I’m here to insist that we are not as divided as we seem,” The Guardian.
Cops Are Needed
There are an array of reasons for Americans to understand that cops are a necessary and wanted component in their lives. The overwhelming responses to polls of policing show strong support. People understand that when all hell breaks loose, the only people standing between violent butthole jerks and themselves are cops. Doubt that? Ask the #MeToo or crime victims movements.
The alternative is civil disorder and when considering the overwhelming growth in firearm sales, ABC News, it’s possible that people may take matters into their own hands. You can see this happening now regarding the explosive violence in Chicago, Baltimore, and additional cities where law enforcement officers are reluctant (refusing?) to take proactive actions due to community demands.
People Fleeing Cities
There are a number of national articles addressing people leaving cities. “Over the past few weeks, as protesters have been met with tear gas and rubber bullets in cities across the country, some who had predicted an exodus grew more resolute. Even The New York Times asked if New York City was still worth it, The Atlantic.
Some will suggest that the exodus is due to the Coronavirus. It’s not. It’s due to the perception that cities are now dangerous.
I got an email from a real estate firm this morning asking if I lived in an area deemed safe. I noticed more ads for security systems and protective devices on television and social media.
Violent Crime Increasing
Per the national crime Survey, violence since 2015 is up 28 percent with serious violent crimes increasing. Per Gallup, violent crime has tripled. Per the Major Chiefs Association, reported violent crime is up, Crime in America.
But Politicians Won’t Defund The Police
“In reality, Democratic leaders from Joe Biden down have virtually no interest in the call to “defund the police” that’s become a central demand of weeks of nationwide protests against police brutality after the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.”
“Grassroots activists and younger Democrats who have spoken with BuzzFeed News this week say they’ve been disappointed in party leaders — including Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Black Congressional leaders including Rep. Jim Clyburn and CBC Chair Karen Bass — as they’ve watched them swiftly turn away from those conversations, emphatically rejecting the idea of defunding police as they face immediate attacks from Republicans,” BuzFeed.
Not Going To Sugarcoat The Bad News
There are a variety of reports stating that the favorable views of law enforcement are declining, and when considering the endless number of negative media reports, it’s understandable. The only thing I ask from readers is to read the entire article and to understand that we have been through this multiple times during my career and public opinion by all Americans, regardless of who they are, bounce back.
From The Crime Report: “More than a week of nationwide protests have left police officers badly shaken, and in some cases, physically bruised. Police leaders say the rank and file are struggling to come to grips with the level of animus they encountered as epithets, bricks and bottles came hurtling their way, the Washington Post reports. “I’ve had members say they feel like a Vietnam veteran returning home to a country that hates them … the morale is low,” said Robert Harris, a Los Angeles police officer heading the police union. That sentiment is likely to elicit little sympathy from protesters outraged over the killing of George Floyd and the countless deaths of blacks at the hands of law enforcement that preceded it. Police in the U.S. have shot and killed nearly 500 people already this year, three a day.”
“The fact that police feel besieged complicates efforts to transform Floyd’s death into a catalyst for changing the system. Although many police leaders say they agree with protesters’ aims, they also think their efforts to change have been underappreciated and their line of work unfairly vilified. Law enforcement is the only profession where you get rocks, bricks and molotov cocktails thrown at you merely because you’re in the same chosen profession as someone else who did something horribly wrong thousands of miles away,” said Steven Casstevens, head of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. David Klinger, a former officer now a criminologist at the University of Missouri St. Louis, said officers are experiencing “bewilderment” at the wave of anger they’re facing. “They don’t understand the vitriol directed at them because they didn’t do anything. They are a symbol of something,” he said.”
“Since Floyd’s death, at least 749 officers have been injured while responding to protests and disturbances, says the Justice Department.”
The majority of Americans support justice reform, WOKV.Com.” Americans are largely united behind the idea that action is required: 29% think the criminal justice system needs “a complete overhaul,” 40% say it needs “major changes” and 25% say it needs “minor changes.” Just 5% believe no changes are necessary.”
This is in contrast to another poll where most Americans do not want to defund or change their law enforcement agencies beyond ensuring fairness and equal treatment for all, Running Out Of Cops.
You have to read both to understand the nuances and racial differences but both suggest changes that many police officers support.
Perceptions of police have declined among all racial groups, according to the survey of more than 6,000 Americans, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points:
“Among black Americans, only 38% find the police very or somewhat favorable. That number dropped 9 percentage points from the May 21-27 survey. The percentage of black Americans who find police somewhat or very unfavorable also increased by 10 percentage points to 54%.”
“About half (51%) of Asian and Pacific Islanders find police very or somewhat favorable, down 14 percentage points. Those who find police somewhat or very unfavorable also increased to 44% from 18%.”
“Latinos saw the least change in favorable perceptions of police. Fifty-two percent of Latinos find police very or somewhat favorable, a 6 percentage point drop from the previous week. There was an 11 percentage point increase among Latinos who find police very or somewhat unfavorable, 36% from 25%.” Running Out Of Cops
Regardless, Most Americans Have Confidence in The Police
“Just a month before Floyd’s death, a Pew Research Center survey found that 78% of Americans overall – but a far smaller share of black Americans (56%) – said they had at least a fair amount of confidence in police officers to act in the best interests of the public. By contrast, large majorities of white (84%) and Hispanic (74%) adults expressed at least a fair amount of confidence. These views – and the wide racial and ethnic gap in opinions – had changed little over the prior few years.”
“The survey also asked the public to rate the ethical standards of police officers, a question that revealed similar demographic differences. While nearly three-quarters of the public said they would rate the ethical standards of police officers highly, just 52% of black adults said the same,” Pew.
Data Prior To Existing Problems
First, note that within the last five years, law enforcement went through tough times yet public opinion bounced back. Law enforcement continues to be one of the highest-rated professions in the United States per Gallup.
What’s remarkable is the slight difference during the measurement period as to honesty and ethical standards. There was a reduction of four percentage points.
The measurement language is the percent “very high/high,” Gallup. That’s a pretty challenging standard yet law enforcement is rated higher than college teachers, clergy, journalists, lawyers, members of Congress, and others.
Overall Public Confidence in Law Enforcement Is High
The data states that policing is one of the most respected professions in the US and the world, and research documents that the overwhelming number of people stopped by law enforcement felt that they acted responsibly, Confidence in Police.
Eighty-five percent of Americans either have a great deal or some confidence in law enforcement.
An estimated 40 million U.S. residents age 16 or older, or about 17 percent of the population, had a face-to-face contact with a police officer in one year. Among people who had face-to-face contacts, about nine out of 10 residents felt the police were respectful or acted properly, Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Having said this, it’s inevitable that out of 40 million yearly encounters, some will go bad. It’s a statistical reality. Per the Bureau of Justice Statistics study, police used or threatened to use force in less than two percent of contacts.
Even in fragile communities (i.e., high unemployment), a study finds that 74% of fragile-community residents vs. 87% of Americans overall think people like themselves are treated “very fairly” or “fairly” by their local police. The results vary by racial group: Black (65%) and Hispanic (72%) residents of fragile communities are considerably less likely than white residents (87%) to say people like themselves are treated fairly by police, Gallup.
Despite immense negative media coverage, the vast majority of Americans, regardless of who they are, view law enforcement favorably. Cops may be taking a hit right now, but public opinion will bounce back. It always does.
Yes, cops are bewildered and angry, and we will probably lose a lot of police officers. Recruitment and retention will be problems and violence will probably increase and people will flee cities.
“Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all other forms of that have been tried from time to time; but there is the broad feeling in our country that the people should rule, continuously rule, and that public opinion, expressed by all constitutional means, should shape, guide, and control the actions of Ministers who are their servants and not their masters,” Winston Churchhill.
We live in tumultuous times and some people “currently” have a diminished view of law enforcement. But democracy is messy and times like this are inevitable. Cops with the best of intentions make mistakes. Some do worse; some are criminal. There are times where the media gives us the benefit of doubt and there are times when we get slammed.
But law enforcement will regain its esteem. It’s interesting that many of the protestors of the 1960s and 1970s (who are current friends) are aghast at the current level of violence at protests and in cities due to street crime.
I suggest that the majority of people feel the same way. They are not excusing the stupid and sometimes criminal actions on the part of some police officers but everyone understands that we collectively stand or fall through through civil discourse. We can’t continue as a functioning country without compromise and debate.
And the time is now for police agencies to let people know on a daily basis all the good things their officers do. I’ve been preaching this for decades. Now, maybe someone will listen.
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Most Dangerous Cities/States/Countries at Most Dangerous Cities.
US Crime Rates at Nationwide Crime Rates.
National Offender Recidivism Rates at Offender Recidivism.
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