Poll: Nearly Half Of Americans Think Police Violence Is A ‘Very’ Or ‘Extremely’ Serious Problem

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Varun Hukeri General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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Public opinion on policing has shifted dramatically in the past five years, as more Americans believe that police violence is a very serious problem.

A poll released Wednesday by the The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 48% of Americans think police violence is a “very” or “extremely” serious problem. That number is a significant increase from the 32% of Americans who thought the same in 2015.

A greater number of Americans now think police are more likely to use deadly force against a black person than a white person. 61% of respondents said that police violence disproportionately targets black people, up from the 49% of people who thought the same in 2015.

When surveyed about the criminal justice system, 65% of respondents said that police officers who cause injury or death are treated too leniently, compared to the 41% of people who thought the same in 2015.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - JUNE 07: Protesters attend a Black Lives Matter demonstration against racism and police brutality, despite a call by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and others to find other forms of protest because of lockdown rules and coronavirus fears, in Holyrood Park on June 7, 2020 in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. The death of an African-American man, George Floyd, while in the custody of Minneapolis police has sparked protests across the United States, as well as demonstrations of solidarity in many countries around the world. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

A protestor holds up a sign during a demonstration against racism and police brutality (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The change in opinion correlates with the increase in nationwide coverage of police violence, with many of these cases involving lethal interactions between black people and the police, AP reported.

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death last month, demonstrations against police violence have swept the country, and more public attention has been dedicated to the issue of racism against black people. (RELATED: Minnesota Grants Posthumous Pardon To Black Man In Century-Old Lynching Case)

Although more Americans hold the opinion that police violence is a very serious problem, there continues to be a racial divide in attitudes towards policing. For example, 83% of black people said police violence was a “very” or “extremely” serious problem, compared to 39% of white people.

One reason for this divide, according to the study’s conclusion, is the difference between black and white people’s interactions with the police. 51% of black people said they have been treated unfairly by a police officer, compared to only 6% of white people.

The poll surveyed 1,310 American adults via mail, email, telephone and field interviews between June 11-15. The poll had a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percentage points.