Most Americans Don’t Trust Cops Much, a New Gallup Poll Reveals
Most Americans do not trust cops much, according to new poll results that put public confidence in the police at a record low level. From 2019 to 2020, Gallup reports, “confidence in the police fell five points to 48%, marking the first time in the 27-year trend that this reading is below the majority level.”
Since Gallup began asking the question in 1993, the share of American adults who said they had “a great deal” or “a lot” of confidence in the police has ranged from 52 percent to 64 percent. In the latest poll, which was conducted in late June and early July, that number fell to 48 percent. Meanwhile, 33 percent of respondents said they had “some” confidence in the police, while 17 percent said “very little” and 2 percent said “none.”
The decline in confidence, which follows nationwide protests triggered by George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25, is especially striking when compared to the trends for other institutions. From 2019 to 2020, confidence in the medical system and the public schools rose by 15 and 12 points, respectively. Confidence in small businesses and organized religion also rose substantially (by seven and six points, respectively), and even Congress rated slightly better this year than last (rising from 11 percent to 13 percent confidence).
As in prior years, there are stark partisan and racial gaps in attitudes toward the police. “Confidence in the police rose seven points among Republicans to 82% and dropped six points among Democrats to 28%,” Gallup notes. And while 56 percent of white adults had “a great deal” or “a lot” of confidence in police, only 19 percent of black adults did.
The latter result may seem surprising in light of another Gallup finding: More than four-fifths of black respondents said they did not want police to spend less time in their neighborhoods. Sixty-one percent said the current police presence should be maintained,
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