Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey

Poll: 47% Say Cases of Excessive Force by the Police Are on the Rise, 45% Say Police Are Too Quick to Use Lethal Force


While 72 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the police, 47 percent think the number of cases of police officers using excessive force against civilians is on the rise, according to the latest Reason-Rupe poll. Forty-three percent say the rate of police misconduct is steady and 7 percent think it's on the decline.

When it comes to the use of lethal force, only 49 percent of Americans are confident the police only use it when necessary. Another 45 percent believe the police are too quick to pull the trigger. Some may find it quite troubling that on such an important issue, only half are confident in police officers' decisions.

There are significant differences in perception across race and ethnicity, as well as income and age. Younger, lower-income, and nonwhite Americans are considerably more likely than older, high-income, and white Americans to perceive injustice in the police force.

Nevertheless, majorities across all remain favorable toward their local law enforcement. However, African-American and Hispanic Americans are more likely than Caucasians to believe police abuse their authority and use force excessively. For instance, only 38 percent of white Americans believe excessive force in police departments is increasing, compared to 73 percent of African-Americans and 67 percent among Hispanics. Only 34 percent of Caucasians believe the police use lethal force unnecessarily, compared to 82 percent of African-Americans and 72 percent of Hispanics.

Differences in income cannot explain these race/ethnic disparities. Majorities of both lower and higher income nonwhite Americans say police abuse is on the rise and are just as likely to believe the police often use lethal force unnecessarily. However, lower income white Americans are more likely than middle class and higher income white Americans to perceive abuse of authority.

There are also regional differences in perception of police abuse. Fifty-four percent of those in urban areas say the police are too quick to use lethal force, compared to 35 percent of those in rural areas. Southerners are also more likely to say abuse is on the rise—52%—compared to only 38 percent of those in the Midwest.

Republicans don't think excessive force is increasing: 54 percent say it hasn't changed much, and fully 70 percent say the police only use lethal force when necessary. Democrats see things differently; 57 percent say cases of excessive force is on the rise and 61 percent say the police are too quick to use lethal force. Independents agree with Democrats' perception that cases of excessive force are on the rise—52 percent. However, 50 percent believe the police only use lethal force when necessary while 40 percent think the police are too quick to use it.

Perhaps ironically, Americans who prefer larger government are the most likely—58 percent—to believe excessive force by the police is on the rise and they are too quick to use lethal force. In contrast, 52 percent of Americans who prefer limited government think cases of police misconduct remain steady and 62 percent believe police only use lethal force when necessary. Many Americans do not see a connection between the size of government and its impact on policing power.

The Reason-Rupe national telephone poll, executed by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, conducted live interviews with 1004 adults on cell phones (503) and landlines (501) October 1-6, 2014. The poll's margin of error is +/-3.8%. Full poll results can be found here. including poll toplines (pdf)  and crosstabs (xls). 

NEXT: Poll: 47% Say Cases of Excessive Force by the Police Are on the Rise, 45% Say Police Are Too Quick to Use Lethal Force, Significant Perception Differences Across Race and Ethnicity

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  1. I certainly perceive it as increasing, though I suspect that it sadly may not be, and is merely easier to report and publicize with modern technology. Excessive deployment of SWAT teams is clearly increasing, though the percentage of those that result in actual harm to “suspects” and bystanders, as opposed to just unnecessarily making people shit themselves and feel like helpless peons, is unknown to me.

    1. ^This is what would make polls actually meaningful…compare what people perceive to some set of actual data. Wisdom of the crowds when things collate, ignorance of the masses when they don;t.

  2. But what do the millenials think about it?

  3. This is bullshit.

    Both our Dumbfy and the real Jack Dunphy told me within the last six months that cops are universally loved, adored and trusted by the public.

    They also say that cops putting bullet holes in everything and everyone in sight is justified. When I pointed out that my father in law fired a single shot during his career with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Department they fu-fu’ed me because it is a small sleepy rural parish where nothing ever happens. ( Calcasieu Parish contains Sulfur and Lake Charles )

    By the way, that shot he fired….a murderer was fleeing from the cops OJ style. My father in law shot his radiator out when he tried to run a roadblock. He never shot anyone. On at least three occasions when I was at his house convicts whom he had arrested came by to thank him after they were out of prison. They said he changed their lives.

    You can’t build huge, militarized police forces without running out of the right kinds of people and handing out guns and badges to large numbers of people whom I would not trust to pick up dog shit out of my yard.

  4. Today’s newspaper is celebrating operation Hot Spots, where officers from across the state parade around town harassing anyone they see.

    There’s a picture of a bunch of intimidating officers glaring at the camera, and another of them searching some terrified guy with a backpack.

    I imagine all of these searches lacked the reasonable suspicion required by law for them to be legal, and anyone who failed to comply was arrested. That is if they weren’t intimidated into complying after being surrounded by a half a dozen baboons with guns.

    I just checked their webpage and there are no comments. Figures, since you can’t comment anonymously. Post a critical comment and you might get a visit.

    Liberty and Justice are rolling in their graves.

    1. What, do they do a background check for comments? Make up a fake name, fake address, and use a proxy.

      1. They require a phone number and they call the number to confirm that you are you.

        1. That’s…fucking retarded. It’s like they don’t WANT an active readership, but want to pretend they do.

  5. While 72 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the police,

    72% of Americans are really, really stupid.

  6. Poll: 47% Say Cases of Excessive Force by the Police Are on the Rise, 45% Say Police Are Too Quick to Use Lethal Force

    Try polling just white males. See if we get the same #s.

    1. Fuck off you racist shitbag

  7. Quick light the Dunphy signal, Florida Man hustle!

  8. The smart cops out there need to start explaining this shit to all their buddies–smaller departments/precincts can bring someone in. The people who worship you unquestioningly and see no problem with your criminal behavior and bloated salaries/pensions are all going to be dead soon. At the same time, LEO’s of all types are creating a level of hatred among the population that will only serve to make their jobs significantly more dangerous in the years to come. They better start bringing back professionalism and accountability in a hurry or things will get very, very bad.

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