Police Contact With Americans Drops Over 4-Year Period

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Jon Brown Associate Editor
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The number of U.S. residents who had contact with police officers fell by more than 9 million people over a four-year period, according to a report released Thursday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Surveyors found that the drop in interactions with the police could be seen across racial, gender and age demographics.

According to the 2015 Police-Public Contact Survey, which is conducted roughly every three years, the Bureau of Justice Statistics determined that the portion of Americans age 16 or older who interacted with the police fell from 26 percent in 2011 to 21 percent in 2015. The statistics included contact that was initiated by either police or resident, or because of a traffic accident.

The most common reason for police-initiated contact was a traffic stop for speeding. Ninety-one percent of those surveyed admitted that the stop was legitimate, and 95 percent believed that the police behaved properly.

“Police were equally likely to initiate contact with blacks and whites (11% each) but were less likely to initiate contact with Hispanics (9%),” the report highlighted. Males were more likely to be initiated by police than females, and females were more likely to initiate contact than males.

The number of residents who initiated contact with the police fell by 6 million people. The most common reason for a resident to initiate contact with police was to report a possible crime.

Two percent of those initiated by police experienced a threat or non-lethal use of force. When asked, a majority of them perceived it to be excessive.