CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – A major American trend survey shows that white Americans approve of police striking people in far greater numbers than African Americans or Hispanics.
Poll results showed that 70% of white people said they can imagine a situation in which they would approve of a police officer striking an adult male citizen. The results shrank to around 40% of African Americans or Hispanics when asked the same question.
These numbers come as Americans discuss trust between law enforcement and minority communities, including the deaths of men of color at the hands of police.
Justin Mills of Stowe told 22News, “It seems like a lot of these things shouldn’t happen or shouldn’t exist. Of course cops are going to have to use force in some cases when things get out of hand but to the extent that we’ve seen this year is kind of ludicrous.”
This data comes from the 2014 General Social Survey, which is a long running study that measures trends in American opinions.
(The Associated Pres) – Since 1975, the General Social Survey has tracked attitudes toward police using the following series of questions. Here’s how Americans answered them in the 2014 survey:
A: Overall, 62 percent of Americans said yes and 33 percent said no. Seventy percent of whites, 42 percent of blacks and 38 percent of Hispanics said that they could imagine such a situation.
Q: “Would you approve of a policeman striking a citizen who had said vulgar and obscene things to the policeman?”
A: Nine percent of Americans, including 9 percent of whites, 7 percent of blacks and 10 percent of Hispanics said they would approve.
Q: “Would you approve of a policeman striking a citizen who was being questioned as a suspect in a murder case?”
A: Fourteen percent of Americans, including 12 percent of whites, 24 percent of blacks and 18 percent of Hispanics said they would approve.
Q: “Would you approve of a policeman striking a citizen who was attempting to escape from custody?”
A: Sixty-three percent of Americans, including 69 percent of whites, 42 percent of blacks and 50 percent of Hispanics said they would approve.
Q: “Would you approve of a policeman striking a citizen who was attacking the policeman with his fists?”
A: Eighty-five percent of Americans, including 90 percent of whites, 74 percent of blacks and 74 percent of Hispanics said they would approve.
The General Social Survey is administered by NORC at the University of Chicago, with financing from the National Science Foundation, primarily using in-person interviewing.
The typical sample size was 1,500 prior to 1994, but increased to 2,700-3,000 until 2008, then decreased to 2,000-2,500 for the most recent surveys. Resulting margins of error are between plus or minus 3.1 percentage points for the smaller sample sizes and plus or minus 2.2 percentage points for the larger sample sizes at the 95 percent confidence level. The 2014 survey was conducted March 31-Oct. 11, 2014, among 2,538 American adults. The current results are included in the GSS 1972-2014 Cumulative File.