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About a fifth of Americans report a police officer having used profanity with them. An overwhelming majority (77%) of Americans say police officers should be prohibited from using profanity or swearing at citizens while on the job. Twenty-three percent (23%) say police ought to be allowed to swear at citizens while on duty.

Strong majorities across demographic and political groups similarly agree that on-duty police officers should be prohibited from swearing at citizens. (This includes nearly equal shares of Caucasians (77%), African Americans (82%), Hispanics (72%), Democrats (77%), independents (77%), and Republicans (75%).)

Although Americans who score high on the Respect for Authority Index (RAI) tend to favor giving police more latitude generally, they are no more likely to support allowing police profanity. This is perhaps unsurprising since those with above average respect for authority also expect authority figures to demonstrate magnanimity and fatherliness.87


87 Jonathan Haidt and Jesse Graham, "When Morality Opposes Justice: Conservatives Have Moral Intuitions that Liberals May Not Recognize," Social Justice Research 20 (2007): 98-116.

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