Overall confidence in the police has risen slightly in the past two years, with 57 percent of Americans now saying they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in law enforcement — matching the overall average for the 25-year Gallup trend, says the latest Gallup survey. The return to the historical average comes after confidence edged downward in 2014 and 2015. Overall confidence fell from 57 percent in 2013 to 53 percent in June 2014, after the acquittal of George Zimmerman for killing black teenager Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman’s acquittal led to the founding of the Black Lives Matter movement. Confidence in police dropped to a record-tying low of 52 percent in June 2015, as the Black Lives Matter movement led protests against police shootings of unarmed blacks in New York City, Ferguson, and North Charleston, S.C.
Only two other institutions (the military and small business) of the 15 others measured this year scored higher than the police. Confidence in police among blacks dropped from 35 to 30 percent between the 2012-2014 polling and 2015-2017. The recent polling showed a widespread loss of confidence among groups that generally are in line politically with blacks: Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, Hispanics, liberals and those under 35. Confidence among Republicans and Republican leaners, whites, conservatives and those aged 55 or older has been stable or has increased slightly.