posted at 7:21 pm on October 25, 2016 by John Sexton
Public respect for the police has hit a high which has only been topped once since 1965. The Gallup poll of Americans views of police was taken earlier this month and found 76% of Americans have “a great deal” of respect for police in their areas and another 17% have “some” respect. Just 7% of respondents said they had “hardly any” respect for police. Here’s a chart prepared by Gallup showing the trends since 1965. As you can see the only time respect for police has been higher was in 1967.
What’s striking about this poll is that it is a completely reversal from last year when Gallup reported the highest figure for “little or no confidence in police” recorded since the poll began in 1993.
Overall, 25% of Americans say they have a great deal of confidence in the police, 27% quite a lot, 30% “some,” 16% “very little” and 2% “none.” The combined 18% who have very little or no confidence in police is the highest Gallup has measured to date.
So we’ve gone from the highest lack of confidence in police recorded 16 months ago to the 2nd highest respect for police ever recorded today. What changed? Gallup suggests the death of police officers is responsible. Also noteworthy is the fact that respect for police is up more among nonwhite respondents than among whites:
The latest figures, from Gallup’s Oct. 5-9 annual poll on crime, show Americans’ respect for police increased as the number of on-duty police officers who were shot and killed was on the rise…
Four in five whites (80%) say they have a great deal of respect for police in their area, up 11 points from last year. Meanwhile, two in three nonwhites (67%) report having the same level of respect, an increase of 14 points from last year.
Gallup doesn’t break up the responses by individual races (just white and nonwhite) so it’s not possible to see how black respondents felt about this question. However, what this shift suggests is that the Black Lives Matter movement was driving down confidence in police though 2015. That trend might have continued this year as well but support for police officers spiked after the shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge.