Police Abuse

Most Americans Don't Trust Cops Much, a New Gallup Poll Reveals

The results reflect the impact of increasing publicity about police abuses.


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, while 20 percent said it should be increased. As my colleague Nick Gillespie suggests, those findings cast doubt on the popularity of calls to "defund" or abolish police departments. But there is nothing inconsistent in wanting police to do their jobs without abusing the citizens they are supposed to serve.

Among adults generally, confidence in the police stood at 52 percent in 1993 and peaked at 64 percent in 2004. There is little reason to think police abuse has gotten worse since then, but publicity about it certainly has increased. The ubiquity of cameras in the pockets of cellphone owners, on storefronts, on the dashboards of squad cars, and on the bodies of police officers has a lot to do with that. The public understanding of controversial police encounters, which once depended on conflicting accounts from cops and people who claimed to have been victimized by them (sometimes coupled with possibly unreliable bystander testimony), is nowadays routinely informed by compelling video footage.

Floyd's death never would have gotten the attention it did without cellphone video that clearly showed Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of a handcuffed, prone arrestee whose resistance at the time was limited to complaining that he could not breathe and begging for his life. And in the aftermath of that horrifying incident, when police officers across the country seemed intent on validating public suspicion by using excessive force against peaceful demonstrators protesting such abuse, video evidence was again crucial in documenting their misconduct.

This week, for example, two Indianapolis officers were charged with assaulting two women at a protest on May 31. A protester alleged that the officers, Jonathan Horlock and Nathaniel Schauwecker, attacked her with batons and pepper balls without provocation. Her companion, a photographer, said one of the officers shoved her to the pavement when she objected to the protester's treatment. While the officers claimed they used appropriate force while arresting the women for violating a local curfew, video of the incident told a different story. Now Horlock and Schauwecker both face battery charges, while Horlock is also charged with perjury and obstruction of justice because he lied about the encounter, falsely claiming that the protester had hit a police sergeant in the chest.

The response from the local police union was notably muted. "We look forward to a full, fair and public airing of all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the events in question," the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police said yesterday. "While officers prefer to avoid any use of force, we fully recognize the requirement to safely and swiftly effectuate the lawful arrest of individuals when called upon to do so, especially during tense and rapidly evolving events. Therefore, we welcome a robust review of these allegations and have confidence in the process."

The restrained tone of that statement contrasts sharply with the strident, diehard defenses that we frequently hear from police unions. That reflex, which elevates the personal interests of particular cops about the broader interests of the profession, is one of the things that will have to change if police want to rehabilitate their reputation and restore public confidence in their work.

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  1. In the picture, why is someone pointing a paintball gun?

    1. Chemical deterrent paint balls used by cops when real bullets would look bad. Supposedly they’re supposed to be less physically harmful but the cops have a tendency to hit eyes and genitals “accidentally” most of the time.

      1. Supposedly they’re supposed to be less physically harmful

        Supposedly? I haven’t tried paintball guns for hunting but I suspect they’d be demonstrably ineffective at inflicting physical harm relative to actual bullets. Batons might be just as effective, but if you ever take your kids out to have a fun time, I recommend using the paintball marker rather than wooden(?) batons.

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      2. Chemical deterrent paint balls used by cops when real bullets would look bad.

        Only *look* bad? You’re OK with the logistics and morality of murdering protestors as long as the optics are good?

        You’re a mess of self-contradiction trying to present yourself as some sort of reasonable position.

        1. That was a hell of a jump to conclusions move there.

          1. Saying they’re only doing it for the optics is a pretty big conclusion to jump to as well.

            Should I ask him for the data showing that police officers shoot eyes and genitals most of the time or do we just assume that to be the case?

            1. I just assume that to be the case, yeah, given all the people they’ve, you know, shot “accidentally” in the eyes and genitals. Just like I assume most public school teachers are incompetent parasites and misandrist cunts. So, no, I don’t give pigs the benefit of the doubt, unlike you, apparently.

              1. So, no, I don’t give pigs the benefit of the doubt, unlike you, apparently.

                It’s got nothing to do with the benefit of the doubt, if I hand a chimp a laser pointer and he can’t hit the broad side of a barn, I’d be stupid to assume that if I hand him a slingshot he’s suddently going to be capable of taking the wings off a fly at the same distance. Doesn’t matter how much I hate the chimp or, really, how incompetent at using a slingshot or a laser pointer to be. Factually, the paintball gun is both less accurate, less precise, and less harmful than the alternatives.

                Moreover, if the chimp really were malicious, an ‘accidental’ baton to the groin or eye is going to do a lot more damage and be just as ‘accidental’.

                You don’t just not give the pigs the benefit of the doubt, you actively despise them. And that’s all well and good until the McCloskeys are standing on their front yard trying to defend their property and you dumbshits come out of the woodwork and openly deny them the benefit of the doubt as well.

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      3. “”but the cops have a tendency to hit eyes and genitals “accidentally” most of the time.””

        Considering the quality of marksmanship of your average city cop, I’d say it true.

        1. I know when I think ‘precision weapon’ paintball marker is the first thing that comes to mind. I hear a lot of the 3-gun champions and even guys like Jerry Miculek recommend that terrible shooters practice with hi-precision paintball guns to enhance their skills.

    2. Oh great! Now we need reasons to point paintball guns markers?

  2. As my colleague Nick Gillespie suggests, those findings cast doubt on the popularity of calls to “defund” or abolish police departments.

    ‘cast doubt’ would be a gentle way of putting it.

  3. I don’t have stats but I think it’s reasonable to assume that in the 27 yrs since this polling began police departments as a whole have become more diverse. Yet positive opinion has declined. What are we to make of that?
    Some may claim that those evil right wingers hate new diverse PD’s but the polling has shown increased support among republicans,
    Dems just seem to hate everything…including themselves.

    1. That Republicans hate the Irish?

      1. Everyone hates the Irish. Even the Kennedy’s.

    2. The Democrats claim to believe in government but then turn around and do everything they can to destroy the trust in and legitimacy of government. They can’t seem to make the connection why that is counter productive.

      1. It’s a flow chart with a black box in the middle.

      2. he says without a hint of irony as his cult leader first manufactures a crisis in the Postal Service, then uses that to cast doubt on the upcoming election.

        1. He says without a hint of irony about the absurdity of elections or anything more important than junk mail depending on the postal service in the first place.

          1. No, no. This is true. We know this because Trump keeps saying the quiet parts out loud.


          2. lol and an Obama gaffe from 6 years ago or whatever is your rebuttal?

            1. Gaffe? It sounded like a deliberate statement to me.

    3. The War on Drugs has ramped up with the militarization of the police.

  4. Now do journalists.

    1. Yeah. I don’t necessarily disagree that the officers should be charged, but this one-sided description doesn’t really match the video any better than the police’s description and, unlike Sullum, the police aren’t exactly paid to write.

      I count 9 officers going in multiple directions in the video. To act like these women were just strolling home after a peaceful day of professionally documenting the protest with the iPhones they keep in their pocket is pretty disingenuous.

  5. This is not a good thing. A society that doesn’t trust the police or law is not a healthy one. This isn’t some kind of good thing. This is one of the negative effects of the lack of accountability and behavior or law enforcement. It is something to fix, not something to praise.

    1. It is something to fix, not something to praise.

      I agree with this sentiment. As your society’s trust level crumbles, and you go from a high-trust society to a low-trust one, it doesn’t bode well for the future.

      1. Soon the Vandals will be in DC.

      2. Civilization ends when people stop acting civilized.

    2. It is difficult to support people who enforce unjust laws.

      1. Yet we reelect the creators of those unjust laws.

        That’s the difference between the creators and the enforcers. It is harder for enforcers to blind people with their political charm.

    1. My impression is that the black community in Washington had it’s fill of BLM in May. It turned out to be a bunch of retarded white people trying to burn the town down and it didn’t take long for the locals to figure that out.

      Now Antifa and Occupy Wall Street are planning a 50 day siege of the White House starting in September. The black community even now is really hesitant to demand something be done about anything that is branded BLM. They feel like BLM is part of their community and something they are obligated to support.

      Well Antifa and OWS are not BLM and the black community in Washington couldn’t give a crap less about them. Antifa is so retarded, they think they are going to roll in to some welcome wagon by the oppressed black community in Washington. They are going to be in for a rude surprise. The Mayor won’t be able to get away with letting them run wild like she did with BLM, at least initially. They are going to be in the hospital or in jail long before their 50 day siege is over.

      1. you mean Occupy Wall Street is planning a 50 day siege.
        Antifa is a figment of our imaginations, I’m told.

      2. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. I doubt BLM would move to stop any protest aimed at the White House. As long as it’s wrapped up when Harris and Biden take office. Elsewhere, like their neighborhoods they might have an issue.

        1. BLM won’t do shit. The Washington police will

  6. Actually, there is reason to think that police abuse has gotten worse during that period. Both (un)qualified immunity and civil asset forfeiture have increased, creating greater incentives for abuse and fewer avenues for victims to seek accountability. In both cases, the trend in increased abuse can be directly matched to court decisions making QI and CAF stronger.

    1. Republicans on these comments say QI is handy, dandy, and not worth consideration. If you disagree then you’re voting for Biden.

  7. “Floyd’s death never would have gotten the attention it did without cellphone video that clearly showed Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of a handcuffed, prone arrestee whose resistance at the time was limited to complaining that he could not breathe and begging for his life”

    Floyd had been complaining he couldn’t breathe from before the time he was restrained… a symptom, as it turns out, of a fentanly overdose, and Floyd had ingested a fatal amount before the cops arrived. Derek Chauvin, when he arrived, called for an ambulance with EMTs, thinking it was an overdose and Floyd needed assistance, and the knee compression of the carotid artery (on one side) is apparently a standard control hold used to keep OD’s on their sides to keep from aspirating their own vomit.

    If the media don’t start backing down expectations, justice in the case of the MN police may cause an eruption in BLM violence that makes the Rodney King riots look like a Pee Wee Herman movie.

    BLM started with no justice for Trayvon Martin, although there was a jury trial that found the shooting to be in self-defense. And then it was about the Michael Brown shooting, but local prosecutors agreed with Obama’s Justice department who were on the scene investigating … there was no “hands up, don’t shoot” and the officer shot Brown as he was advancing on the officer, after he had tried to wrest the cop’s gun from him.

    Now we have the world being kept in the dark, thinking Floyd was strangled by a racist cop.

    This will not end well when even small-l libertarian magazines can’t speak truth to malevolent power which is what BLM, Inc., with founders self-described as “trained Marxists”, IS.

    1. sorry, denying someone air for 9 minutes is not in the first aid handbook.

      1. “”denying someone air for 9 minutes””

        If that was true he would have been dead for 7 minutes before the cops knee was lifted.

        1. It takes 5 minutes to die from lack of oxygen.

          1. Ok, so the guy would have had to been dead for 4 minutes before the cop let up.

      2. Q: If his airway was obstructed… how was he speaking?
        A: It wasn’t.

        One carotid artery would have been restricted. The one on the other side wasn’t.

        1. Yeah, Floyd’s autopsies showed fentanyl, methamphetamine, Covid-19. heart disease and hypertension. Though two autopsies came to different conclusions.

          If I were a juror, I’d conclude what Chauvin did was an unnecessary abuse, they were dealing with a guy who couldn’t follow instructions, and it resulted in Floyd’s death. People already under a lot of medical stress don’t need more of it. I found an Dr. Pooya Jazayeri who wrote regarding carotid endarterectomies, and putting a clamp on one carotid artery: “if you have a healthy patient, you can clamp the artery and nothing will happen. If you have a sick patient, you can clamp the artery and they will have a stroke and possibly die. There is also something called the carotid baroreceptors at the carotid bifurcation. If you compress it, your heart rate slows way down.” Compressing one carotid is dangerous in many individuals.

        2. If this is true, we are well and truly fucked when the charges get dropped or the jury acquits. The cops are going to stand back and laugh while the cities burn. If simple investigative journalism could have uncovered these facts and didn’t, well, fuck the media.

          I need to go buy more ammo…

      3. First aid for a suspected opiate overdose:
        Put them on their side
        Call for an ambulance with EMTs
        Administer Narcan if you have it and you are trained for it.

    2. Floyd was on his stomach not side and two other cops were on his back.
      From where Brown turned back towards Wilson after running from him for 60 yards he made it 21 feet or about 8 steps. The shooting lasted 3.5 seconds. That means Brown was moving at 4mph or walking pace. The lie from Ferguson is that Brown was charging Wilson at full speed.

      1. Okay, a “walking pace” back towards the officer he just assaulted. What should Wilson have done? Just stand there and wait to be assaulted again?

        1. Backed up.

      2. I just spent the time to watch more bodycam footage. It sure looked to me like they were trying to have Floyd on his side, and his right shoulder was off the ground most of the time I could see.

        There was no “lie” from Ferguson; 4mph is a brisk walking speed. All the shots were made to Brown’s front, and the shooting paused when Brown paused.

        And one thing united both the Floyd death and Brown shootings… the choice to die that day was under the control of the ones who died. Had Floyd had the presence of mind to tell the officers that “I’m worried I might have overdosed”, like when they asked him about the foaming at the mouth (another OD sign) they noticed, and cooperated in getting in the patrol car, he could possibly have survived the day.

        Instead, we not have more blood shed. And that’s not the end of it.

        1. No the story is Brown was charging at full speed. 21 feet is only 8 or 9 steps and as you said Brown paused so how exactly could a 290 pound guy who’d just run 60 yards in flip flops go from zero to full speed, back to zero, back to full speed in 9 steps? It’s absurd. Wilson’s fear, if he even had any, was unreasonable therefore criminal.

          1. There were many stories, some of which matched physical evidence. Perhaps if you provided a link to the story you believe I would better understand your point. Why do you think Eric Holder and Obama’s Justice department thought differently then than you do now?

            1. The facts are from the DOJ report.
              The DOJ only determines if there is evidence of civil rights violations. It doesn’t determine if a homicide is justified or not at the state level.

      3. Everyone that has investigated the Brown case concluded nothing to charge. Including the DOJ under Obama.

        1. The DOJ only determined there was no evidence of a civil rights violation. They don’t do state murder cases.

          1. Wait. You can murder someone and not violate their civil rights? That’s a hell of a trick.

            1. That’s government.

          2. This is from the new prosecutor, Wesley Brown who campaigned on reopening the Brown case and did reopen the case after elected.

            ““The question for this office was a simple one: Could we prove beyond a reasonable doubt that when Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown he committed murder or manslaughter under Missouri law? After an independent and in-depth review of the evidence, we cannot prove that he did,” Bell said.””


            1. He’s an idiot. With time and distance we can determine speed and that shows Brown wasn’t charging at Wilson. That means Wilson’s fear was unreasonable therefore criminal.

              1. A guy twice the size of the cop, who had already punched the cop once, was coming back towards him and only a few steps away. To me, that makes the cop’s fear quite reasonable as long as Brown was moving in his direction at all.

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  9. Or the people who are answering the phone for “random” polls are not the same people that used to respond.

  10. …even Congress rated slightly better this year than last (rising from 11 percent to 13 percent confidence).

    Cops should think about writing everyone a check. And also writing Boeing a much bigger check.

    1. It’s the post impeachment bump, lol.

  11. End drug prohibition and their rating will skyrocket.

    1. End drug prohibition victimless crimes and their rating will skyrocket.

      FIFY. Although, admittedly, at this point I’d accept a rollback of COVID lockdowns.

      1. Legalizing drugs? Fine. But realize that the same people producing and distributing cocaine, heroin, meth, today? Will be the same people producing it tomorrow. And they are not nice people.

        1. But realize that the same people producing and distributing cocaine, heroin, meth, today? Will be the same people producing it tomorrow. And they are not nice people.

          The Purdue Family seems pretty nice to me. More seriously, being not nice isn’t illegal and making everyone nice through force of law isn’t any better/diferent (it just makes you the cartel). If the cartels start violently pushing their products and the cops serve only to counteract the violence, they’ll be more appropriately heroes and public servants.

        2. Governemnt?

        3. Bayer invented heroin I imagine they’ll make it if it’s legal.

        4. williams25248:
          “Legalizing drugs? Fine. But realize that the same people producing and distributing cocaine, heroin, meth, today? Will be the same people producing it tomorrow.”

          I assume by “tomorrow” you mean after the drugs are legalized. If your assertion had any truth to it, the Mafia would have dominated liquor distillation and sales after Prohibition was repealed.

      2. Well the root is prohibit government from initiating force but that didn’t seem germane this time.

  12. “And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.” ― Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn , The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956

  13. HERE► Even Brendan is a transphobe, radfem kind: see his focus on “M2F are a threat to women, they’re potential rapists like all the men” while totally ignoring the existence of F2M (actually the majority among the younger transitions). He also doesn’t care about children transitions issue: he prefer to talk much more about the alleged plights of adult lesbians.
    And if you do not agree he spout “misogyny!” to silence you. GO TO LINK.

  14. Democrats used to tell us government was the answer to everything and that the if rate of spending for government was not increased every year then it was a cut in spending and resulted in the deaths of individuals.

    Now Democrats tell us that a government agency, the police department, staffed with government employees, the police, is a complete and utter failure and must have their funding drastically reduced. There is no mention of any resulting deaths caused by the cut in spending.

    Democrats are too stupid to govern.

  15. Poll numbers like this are not surprising, given most people are under a 24/7 media barrage that puts the small number of incidents involving bad cops or unjustified uses of force front and center, making them look like they’re representative of the entire LE community across the nation. Millions of citizen-police actions every year that do not result in violence or officer misconduct. Most use of force incidents are entirely justified based on the actions of the person they are contacting.

  16. “”making them look like they’re representative of the entire LE community across the nation.””

    If the LE community doesn’t like it, they should do more to get the bad apples out. For every cop that does do something bad, there are usually more cops that were there that did nothing about it.

  17. Quick look at the Gallup page tells me this was only about who/what they wanted to tell the pollsters they had confidence in, not what they sincerely had confidence in. They’re hoping to “get more of” or get more from whichever profession or institution they flattered. Like if they said they felt good about the public schools, maybe they’d deign to open. Or if they said they felt good about cops, they’re hoping the cops beat up whoever they’re beating up, only more.

  18. That’s because cops are dicks and brutal. They brought this on themselves.

  19. She was good right up until she pulled her hands from behind her back, struck the cop with her elbows, all clearly for the show of provoking the cops once she had an audience.
    She fought first, cops used reasonable force to subdue a person who suddenly, and without warning or provocation, lashed out violently at the cops.
    Just enough force used to achieve the objective. All good by my view.

    1. Who are you going to believe? The protestors, or your lying eyes.

      You can’t veto an arrest. I don’t understand this trend that you can. If becomes self fulfilling prophecy.

      Chris Rock had some commentary on this long ago.

      1. A classic… too bad more people don’t actually listen to this advice.

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