All through the debates between the Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter crowds we’ve seen one study after another asking about public perceptions. What’s largely been missing in this discussion is how the police themselves feel about it. The Pew Research Center seeks to address this deficiency this month with an exhaustive study of thousands of law enforcement officers around the country. The results don’t seem particularly surprising to me, but they might be to those who live in more liberally oriented bubbles. The cops, by and large, are unhappy with the direction currents events have taken, feeling that their jobs are both more difficult and increasingly dangerous. (LA Times)
Police officers in the U.S. think their job has gotten harder of late, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.
The public outcry over high-profile police shootings of black Americans, coupled with a recent uptick in fatal shootings of police, has left the majority of officers feeling more concerned for their personal safety and more reluctant to carry out some of their duties, according to the report, titled “Behind the Badge.”
“The fact that these incidents have brought so much attention to their job has actually made it harder to execute in certain circumstances,” said Kim Parker, director of social trends research at Pew and a lead author on the report, which drew its conclusions from a survey of a nationally representative sample of 8,000 policemen and women.
The direction these numbers are taking seemed obvious to me as I noted above, but even I was taken aback by the margins. You can read the full Pew report here and they really dig down into the details. 93% said they were more concerned about their safety now than in previous years. 86% of officers described their jobs as being more difficult. (12% said there was no change, but none of them felt their jobs were actually easier.) In terms of the Ferguson Effect, 76% are now more reluctant to use force even in circumstances where they deem it appropriate and 72% say that they are less likely to stop suspect who they describe as suspicious.
Is it any wonder that we’re seeing upticks in crime in urban centers, reversing decades long trends of progress? And I specify urban centers because the study breaks down the attitudes of cops in small precincts with less than 300 officers versus large departments with 2,600 officers or more. On that question of officers who are more reluctant to pull over suspicious characters, the figure was 86% in the larger departments but barely half (54%) in smaller, more rural precincts.
There’s plenty more in the full study and I encourage you to look it over. Much of it obviously comes down to questions of race. In closing, I’ll just ask you to compare the results of the survey of police to this graphic tweeted out by Fox News this week. It deals with the shift in attitudes about race relations in the country over the past eight years.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) January 11, 2017
Weren’t we supposed to be living in a post-racial America after Barack Obama was elected?