Nearly six in 10 Americans give their local police department high ratings for “being courteous” (57%) and for demonstrating they care about the people in the community (55%).38 About 3 in 10 give the police an average rating and 1 in 10 give police a low rating. Responses differ by race, age, income, and partisanship.
About 4 in 10 African Americans give their local police departments high ratings for being courteous and caring about community members, compared to 6 in 10 white Americans and half of Hispanics.
Millennials (45%) and households earning less than $30,000 a year (56%) are less likely than seniors (73%) and households earning more than $80,000 annually (64%) to give their police high ratings for courteousness. Similarly 43% of millennials and 50% of households earning less than $30,000 a year give the police high marks for caring about community members, compared to about two-thirds of seniors (66%) and households making more than $80,000 a year (61%).
Republicans (7 in 10) are also more likely than Democrats (5 in 10) to highly rate their police departments for being courteous and caring about the community. Race and ethnicity does not account for this result. White Republicans (74%) are 24 points more likely than white Democrats (50%) to give their local police high marks for being courteous.
Perceptions of police professionalism and empathy are highly correlated with individuals’ favorability toward the police. Of those who give their local police high ratings for caring about community members, 85% have a favorable opinion of the police, compared to 24% of those who give local police low ratings for empathy.
38 High ratings are defined as answering 4 or 5 on a scale of 1-5: “How good a job is the police department in your community doing for each of the following, using a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 means you think it’s doing a poor job and 5 means you think it’s doing an excellent job.”