Over the last few years, fatal high-profile incidents with police have skewed the pubic’s perception on policing and helped launch, partially, the Black Lives Matter movement. A study conducted by the Pew Research Center released Wednesday sheds light on what police really think, which may help shape the framework on easing racially motivated tensions with police.
Police are more concerned about their personal safety today, the nationwide survey of 8,000 officers found. Most believe that their jobs have become harder after recent high-profile incidents involving them. Citing that over 90 percent of officers “worry more about their personal safety”—a number reported even before the assassination of five officers in Dallas, TX in 2016.
Race increasingly plays a role in how police officers conduct their jobs.
Past “high-profile fatal encounters between black citizens and police officers have made their jobs riskier, aggravated tensions between police and blacks, and left many officers reluctant to fully carry out some of their duties,” the report found.
Protests by groups such as Black Lives Matter have led many officers to believe that they are the targets of these demonstrations. Furthermore, two-thirds characterize the “fatal encounters that prompted the demonstrations as isolated incidents and not signs of broader problems between police and the black community.”
This view, however, is not shared by the majority of U.S adults as “60% say these incidents are symptoms of a deeper problem.” Which is understandable because most officers think the public “doesn’t understand the risks and challenges they face.” This is in addition to the fact that the majority of U.S adults consume their news from liberally dominated outlets, which have painted negative perceptions of police.
Police today face increasing pressure to reduce fatal outcomes during encounters with citizens, coupled with a rising disconnect of views from the public on police tactics. This mixture can and has led to increasing distrust in certain communities between police and the public. A nightmarish condition that can only be reversed through a stable rebuild of shared understanding and common beliefs by both sides.