Again and again the data show that people of color in the U.S. are disproportionately, and systematically, stopped, frisked, arrested, and exposed to the use of force by police. Police departments and communities across the U.S. are struggling with these realities and with what has become a glaring divide in how Americans experience and relate to policing. This special collection includes research from nonprofits, foundations, and university based research centers, who have not only described and documented the issue but who also provide much-needed recommendations for addressing this chronic and tragic problem.

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Amid Protests, Majorities Across Racial and Ethnic Groups Express Support for the Black Lives Matter Movement

June 12, 2020

As demonstrations continue across the country to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man killed while inMinneapolis police custody, Americans see the protests both as a reaction to Floyd's death and an expression offrustration over longstanding issues. Most adults say tensions between black people and police and concerns aboutthe treatment of black people in the U.S. – in addition to anger over Floyd's death – have contributed a great dealto the protests, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. About six-in-ten U.S. adults say some people taking advantage of the situation to engage in criminal behavior has also been a major contributing factor in the protests. There are wide partisan gaps in these views. 

Perceptions of Policing

Deep Racial, Partisan Divisions in Americans' Views of Police Officers

September 15, 2017

While a large majority of Americans rate police officers positively on a 0-to-100 "feeling thermometer," whites and blacks differ widely in their views, including among Democrats, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in August.

Perceptions of Policing

Policing in America: Understanding Public Attitudes Toward the Police, Results from a National Survey

August 1, 2017

While 68% of white Americans have a favorable view of the police, only 40% of African Americans and 59% of Hispanics have a favorable view.1 Attitudes have changed little since the 1970s when 67% of whites and 43% of blacks reported favorable views of the police. 2 Racial minorities do not have monolithic attitudes toward the police. This report finds that Hispanics' perceptions of police occupy a "middle ground" between black and white Americans' views.

Perceptions of Policing

Behind the Badge: Amid Protests and Calls for Reform, How Police View Their Jobs, Key Issues and Recent Fatal Encounters Between Blacks and Police

January 1, 2017

Police work has always been hard. Today police say it is even harder. In a new Pew Research Center national surveyconducted by the National Police Research Platform, majorities of police officers say that recent high-profile fatalencounters between black citizens and police officers have made their jobs riskier, aggravated tensions between policeand blacks, and left many officers reluctant to fully carry out some of their duties.The wide-ranging survey, one of the largest ever conducted with a nationally representative sample of police, draws on the attitudes and experiences of nearly 8,000 policemen and women from departments with at least 100 officers.1 It comes at a crisis point in America's relationship with the men and women who enforce its laws, precipitated by a series of deaths of black Americans during encounters with the police that have energized a vigorous national debate over police conduct and methods.

Perceptions of Policing

The Racial Confidence Gap in Police Performance: Blacks, Whites Also Have Dramatically Different Views on Causes of Fatal Encounters Between Blacks and Police

September 29, 2016

The deep racial tensions seen in many areas of American life underlie how blacks and whites view police in their communities, as well as their reactions to the deadly encounters in recent years between blacks and law enforcement officers, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center.Only about a third of blacks but roughly three-quarters of whites say police in their communities do an excellent or good job in using the appropriate force on suspects, treating all racial and ethnic minorities equally and holding officers accountable when misconduct occurs. Roughly half of all blacks say local police do an excellent or good job combating crime – a view held by about eight-in-ten whites.

Perceptions of Policing

The Blue Ribbon Panel on Transparency, Accountability, and Fairness in Law Enforcement

July 1, 2016

The Blue Ribbon Panel on Transparency, Accountability, and Fairness in Law Enforcement (the Panel) was established as an advisory body to the San Francisco District Attorney in May 2015 in the wake of revelations that 14 San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) officers had exchanged numerous racist and homophobic text messages. Over a one-year period, the Panel examined a number of different aspects of the SFPD to try to develop a comprehensive understanding of the issue, interviewing more than 100 witnesses and reviewing thousands of public documents. The result is this report. Its findings and recommendations strive to give credit where credit is due, but point to several unmistakable conclusions: the SFPD is in need of greater transparency; lacks robust oversight; must rebuild trust with the communities it serves; and should pay greater attention to issues of bias against people of color, both officers and members of the public. In short, the Panel concludes that the SFPD is in urgent need of important reforms.

Perceptions of Policing; Stop & Frisk

Gun Violence, Policing, and Young Communities of Color

July 1, 2016

Young people of color are leading the response to recent instances of gun violence. Young people do not all experience gun violence at the same rate nor do they feel its consequences evenly. Our research on young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 years old highlights the very different experiences young people have with guns, gun violence, and policing across racial and ethnic groups.

Perceptions of Policing; Racial Bias & Profiling

Black and Hispanic Men Perceived to Be Large Are at Increased Risk for Police Frisk, Search, and Force

January 19, 2016

Social justice issues remain some of the most pressing problems in the United States. One aspect of social justice involves the differential treatment of demographic groups in the criminal justice system. While data consistently show that Blacks and Hispanics are often treated differently than Whites, one understudied aspect of these disparities is how police officers' assessments of suspects' size affects their decisions. Using over 3 million cases from the New York Police Department (NYPD) Stop, Question, and Frisk (SQF) Database, 2006–2013, this study is the first to explore suspects' race, perceived size, and police treatment. Results indicate that tall and heavy black and Hispanic men are at the greatest risk for frisk or search. Tall and heavy suspects are at increased risk for experiencing police force, with black and Hispanic men being more likely to experience force than white men across size categories.

Perceptions of Policing; Racial Bias & Profiling; Stop & Frisk

Law Enforcement and Violence: The Divide Between Black and White Americans

August 1, 2015

This document summarizes the findings of the AP-NORC Center's survey regarding race and policing. Some of the key findings include:  1) Black Americans are nearly four times as likely as whites to describe violence against civilians by police officers as an extremely or very serious problem.2) More than 80 percent of blacks say police are too quick to use deadly force and they are more likely to use it against a black person. Two-thirds of whites label police use of deadly force as necessary and 58 percent say race is not a factor in decisions to use force.3) There is support among both blacks and whites for many changes in policies and procedures that could be effective in reducing tensions between law enforcement and minorities and limiting police violence against civilians. For example, 71 percent say body cameras on police would be an effective deterrent to violence against civilians and 52 percent think community policing programs would help reduce tensions in minority communities.

Perceptions of Policing; Reform Strategies; Use of Force

IACP National Policy Summit on Community-Police Relations: Advancing a Culture of Cohesion and Community Trust

January 1, 2015

The report is designed to serve as a roadmap for law enforcement, communities, and stakeholders to build meaningful, sustainable, trusting, and effective working relationships. Summit participants outlined three conceptual elements of building community-police relationships. The report defines those elements—communication, partnerships, and trust—and provides recommendations for improvement in each.In addition, the report outlines a series of tangible strategies and steps for law enforcement executives to begin to build trust in their communities.

Perceptions of Policing; Reform Strategies

Race and Punishment: Racial Perceptions of Crime and Support for Punitive Policies

September 3, 2014

To guide and give greater momentum to recent calls for reform, this report examines a key driving force of criminal justice outcomes: racial perceptions of crime. A complex set of factors contributes to the severity and selectivity of punishment in the United States, including public concern about crime and racial differences in crime rates. This report synthesizes two decades of research establishing that skewed racial perceptions of crime – particularly, white Americans' strong associations of crime with racial minorities – have bolstered harsh and biased criminal justice policies.

Perceptions of Policing

Few Say Police Forces Nationally Do Well in Treating Races Equally

August 25, 2014

Conducted between August 20 and August 24 as tensions ran high over the police shooting of an unarmed African-American teen in Ferguson, Missouri, the survey of 1,501 adults found large racial gaps in Americans' views of police accountability and performance. A majority of the African Americans surveyed, for example, said police departments do a poor job of holding officers accountable for misconduct (70 percent), of treating racial and ethnic groups equally (70 percent), and of using the appropriate amount of force in specific situations (57 percent) -- compared with 27 percent, 25 percent, and 23 percent of white Americans.

Perceptions of Policing; Racial Bias & Profiling; Use of Force