Americans see interactions with police getting worse across the nation, but not necessarily in their own communities, concludes a survey released Tuesday by the Charles Koch Institute and the Police Foundation on the public perception of police-community relations. When asked about interactions nationwide, only 12 percent said they were getting better and 50 percent said they were getting worse. Asked about peoples’ interactions with police in their own community, 19 percent said they were getting better, 19 percent said they were getting worse, and 56 percent said they were about the same. Thirty-six percent of black respondents feel that interactions between police and citizens are getting worse.
The survey was made public before the Koch Institute’s Advancing Justice Summit: An Agenda for Human Dignity and Public Safety, scheduled for Thursday in Washington, D.C., which involves about 400 academics, law enforcement professionals, policy makers, think tank scholars and community advocates. Among other results of the survey, 70 percent of respondents believe that police in their community are respectful of citizens’ rights; 19 percent said police were not respectful of citizens’ rights, and 11 percent were not sure. Sixty-nine percent of all respondents believe the public should have input in the creation of police rules and policies. Seventy percent believe the role of police is to be a constant presence in the community to prevent crime, compared with responding to crime when it happens, favored by 22 percent. “What this means is that we should encourage police departments to make community relations a priority and to work on establishing police officers as a friendly presence within the community,” said Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation. “It is also an opportunity for us to look at how we can showcase local solutions like community policing to fuel national change.”