Videos involving white officers shooting black civilians have become ingrained in the nation's consciousness. While they represent just a tiny fraction of police behavior, and those that show respectful, peaceful interactions do not make the 24-hour cable news, they have begun to alter public views of police use of force and race relations, experts and police officials tell the New York Times. Videos have provided “corroboration of what African Americans have been saying for years,” said Georgetown University law Prof. Paul Butler, a former prosecutor, who called them “the C-Span of the streets.” Yesterday, the family of Samuel DuBose, an unarmed black man who was shot to death by a University of Cincinnati police officer on July 19, said the officer would not have been prosecuted if his actions had not been captured by the body camera the officer was wearing.
The police face new challenge in trying to regain public confidence. “Every time I think maybe we're past this and we can start rebuilding, it seems another incident occurs that inflames public outrage,” said James Pasco of the Fraternal Order of Police. “Police officers literally have millions of contacts with citizens every day, and in the vast majority of those interactions, there is no claim of wrongdoing, but that's not news.” A Gallup survey in June found that 52 percent of people said they had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the police, down from 57 percent two years earlier, and 64 percent in 2004. In 2007, 37 percent of Americans had high confidence that their local police would treat blacks and whites equally, said the Pew Research Center found, but last year that was down to 30 percent.