Far fewer than half of those living in high-crime, low-income parts of six cities in a federally-sponsored project believe that police officers are responsive to community concerns and are held accountable for misconduct, say results of a new survey. The data were collected in the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, which is sponsored by the U.S. Justice Department in Birmingham, Al., Ft. Worth, Gary, In., Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, and Stockton, Ca. Communities where the data were gathered are primarily minority areas where police presence is high. City-by-city data were not released but on average, under 30 percent of respondents agreed that police were either responsive of held accountable for misdeeds.
More than half of those surveyed agreed that officers judge local residents “based on personal biases or prejudices” and that they treat people differently based on their race or ethnicity. At the same time, more than 60 percent of respondents said they would report crimes or suspicious activities to police and about half said they would attend community meetings to discuss local crime. In general, despite a high degree of mistrust of police, many residents still want to be active partners in crime prevention. The surveys were taken before the project got under way. Public opinion will be measured again after reforms are instituted such as training officers to guard against implicit bias. The findings were scheduled to be discussed today by Nancy La Vigne of the Urban Institute, which is conducting the research, at a briefing on Capitol Hill sponsored by George Mason University’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Plicy and WestEd’s Justice and Prevention Research Center.