Americans’ respect for local police jumped to its highest levels since 1967, says a new Gallup poll reported by the Wall Street Journal. The survey this month found 76 percent of Americans said they have “a great deal” of respect for police in their area, up 12 points from last year. The findings come after high-profile fatal attacks on officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge and amid protests over police shootings of black men across the nation. “The sharp increase over the past year in professed respect for local law enforcement comes as many police say they feel they are on the defensive—both politically and for their lives while they are on duty—amid heated national discussions on police brutality and shootings,” said Gallup’s Justin McCarthy.
Experts said the officer killings in Texas and Louisiana contributed to the jump. “Some of it is the rallying support of law enforcement in the wake of the shootings,” said criminologist Laurie Robinson of George Mason University, who co-chaired President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. “The optimist in me thinks it’s more than just a knee-jerk rallying and really has to do with reflection on what the role of police should be and the complex challenges they face.” The rise in in trust is driven mostly by whites, says Reason. This year just 39 percent of nonwhites told Gallup they had a high level of confidence in the cops. Nonwhite respect for the police, on the other hand, leaped this year, though not so high as white respect did.