Public Opinion Brief No. 1

Deep Racial Divide in Perceptions of Police and Reported Experiences, No Group Is Anti-Cop

A new Cato Institute/YouGov survey of public attitudes toward the police finds a 38-point gap between white and black Americans’ perception that police are too quick to resort to deadly force.1

Nearly three-fourths (73%) of African Americans and 54% of Hispanics believe the police are “too quick to use deadly force,” compared to 35% of white Americans. Instead, 65% of white Americans believe police resort to lethal force “only when necessary” (see Figure 1). When it comes to police tactics overall, black Americans (56%) are more likely to think they are “too harsh” compared to white (26%) and Hispanic (33%) Americans. Majorities of whites (67%) and Hispanics (58%) believe police generally use the right amount of force for each situation.

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Notes:
1. Please see the following for the full report: Emily Ekins, “Policing in America: Understanding Public Attitudes toward the Police,” Cato Institute, December 7, 2016, https://www.cato.org/publications/working-paper/policingamerica-understanding-public-attitudes-towardpolice-results.

Emily Ekins is a research fellow and director of polling at the Cato Institute.