The barrage of recent cases where police used excessive force in apprehending so-called suspects has clearly had a significant impact on the public, as less than half of the respondents in a HuffPost/YougGov poll believed law enforcement officials know how to peacefully resolve a situation.
According to the poll, just 49 percent of 1,000 respondents said they believe police officers responding to a situation are most likely to resolve it peacefully. Twenty-seven percent said law enforcement is more likely to make the situation more volatile and 24 percent weren’t sure.
Broken down by race, while 52 percent of whites said the police would resolve it peacefully, just 39 percent of Blacks and 44 percent of Hispanics agreed with this statement. Among those who said the police would make the situation more volative, 23 percent were white, 38 percent Black and 38 percent Hispanic. Twenty-five percent of whites said they weren’t sure, while 23 percent of Blacks and 18 percent of Hispanics said they weren’t sure.
The poll also revealed that only 28 percent of respondents had called the police for a dispute before and the other 72 percent never had. This was fairly constant through the racial demographics.
However, when asked if police brutality took place locally, there was a notable difference across the races.
Of the total respondents, 29 percent said the problem existed around them, while 43 percent said it didn’t and 27 percent said they weren’t sure, according to the poll. However, of the Black respondents, 58 percent said police brutality existed in their area.
A separate HuffPost/YouGov survey released in August found that 53 percent of Americans thought that police in big cities are tougher on Blacks than whites. Eighty-six percent of the Black respondents believed that to be true.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted as the nation waits to see if a grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., will indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer, for shooting and killing Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager, on Aug. 9. The shooting was followed by months of protests and criticism of the police’s use of excessive force.
The grand jury’s decision is expected to be made this month. Even though most of the protests have been peaceful, the city is anxious about the response from the decision and the governor has called a state of emergency to quell potential outbursts after the verdict comes down.