This June 19, 2015 Gallup Poll on policing means there’s serious work to do.
The percentage of Americans who say they are confident in policing has dropped fairly precipitously. From a high of 64% in 2002, to 57% two years ago, to 52% today.
25% of Americans say they have a “great deal” of confidence in 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 ever measured to date.
If you look at the “cross-tabs” on the results, you’ll see that confidence has dropped across virtually any demographic you can measure — men, women, White, Non-White, Black, Hispanic, young and old, rich and poor, big city and small town, urban and rural. About the only demographic groups where confidence has risen in the last five years are Conservatives and Republicans, and then only a nudge. Confidence among those self-identifying as Moderates has dropped 8% (that’s a greater drop than for Blacks) and those self-identifying as Liberal 7%.
From an ideological standpoint, the greatest loss of confidence has been with Democrats — a loss of 13%. From an age standpoint, the biggest loss is with younger voters — 7%. From a gender standpoint, it’s men — 7% versus 1% for women. From an educational standpoint, the loss of confidence rises with education levels — 2% for those with a high school degree, 4% for those with a college degree, and 11% for those with post-graduate degrees.
While all of these numbers are concerning, perhaps the most troubling is the responses of the Moderates. That suggests that law enforcement agencies and their unions have to start doing a much better job of communicating with the public. We don’t have a policing problem in this country; we have a communications problem. And it’s a big one.