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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Majority of Public Favors Giving Civilians the Power to Sue Police Officers for Misconduct

July 9, 2020

Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand how Americans are viewing proposals aimed at addressing policing in the aftermath of the widely covered deaths of several Black people in police custody, as well as widespread protests against racism and excessive use of force by police. For this analysis, 4,708 U.S. adults were surveyed in June 2020. Everyone who took part is a member of Pew Research Center's American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories.

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

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

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

Stark Racial Divisions in Reactions to Ferguson Police Shooting

August 17, 2014

Blacks and whites have sharply different reactions to the police shooting of an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Mo., and the protests and violence that followed. Blacks are about twice as likely as whites to say that the shooting of Michael Brown "raises important issues about race that need to be discussed." Wide racial differences also are evident in opinions about of whether local police went too far in the aftermath of Brown's death, and in confidence in the investigations into the shooting.The new national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Aug. 14-17 among 1,000 adults, finds that the public overall is divided over whether Brown's shooting raises important issues about race or whether the issue of race is getting more attention than it deserves: 44% think the case does raise important issues about race that require discussion, while 40% say the issue of race is getting more attention than it deserves.By about four-to-one (80% to 18%), African Americans say the shooting in Ferguson raises important issues about race that merit discussion. By contrast, whites, by 47% to 37%, say the issue of race is getting more attention than it deserves.

Perceptions of Policing; Racial Bias & Profiling