Blacks, whites live in ‘different worlds’ when it comes to police relations

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Protesters march during another night of protests over the police shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. September 23, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Blake - RTSP722

Protesters march during another night of protests over the police shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. September 23, 2016. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

Race plays a major role in the way people view law enforcement in their communities, according to a new study that comes out following several high-profile police killings.

The study from Pew Research Center reveals wide differences in the ways people perceive community law enforcement, police accountability and motivations behind protests against police brutality.

“Blacks and whites live in two very different worlds with two very different worldviews on a variety of issues. One of those areas is police.”

In August, researchers asked a nationally representative pool of 4,538 U.S. adults how they viewed their own community’s police. What they found was striking.

About one-third of African-American respondents said police officers in their community used appropriate force, treated everyone equally (regardless of race or ethnicity) and that departments held officers accountable whenever they failed to do so. By contrast, three-quarters of white respondents said they felt the same way.

Percent of African-Americans Who Say Police Do a Good or Excellent Job at…

    • 33%

Using the right amount of force for each situation

    • 35%

Treating racial and ethnic groups equally

    • 31%

Holding officers accountable when misconduct occurs

Source: Pew Research Center

This is not the first time Rich Morin, a pollster and senior editor at Pew Research Center, has noticed these gaps in opinion, he said. It happens “any time we do a survey on race relations.”

“Blacks and whites live in two very different worlds with two very different worldviews on a variety of issues. One of those areas is police,” he said.

In June, Pew Research Center found that four out of 10 African-Americans said they don’t believe the U.S. will ever secure racial equality, while as many white respondents said they thought the nation had already achieved this goal.

Percent of White Americans Who Say Police Do a Good or Excellent Job at…

    • 75%

Using the right amount of force for each situation

    • 75%

Treating racial and ethnic groups equally

    • 70%

Holding officers accountable when misconduct occurs

Source: Pew Research Center

After a Charlotte police officer shot and killed Keith Scott, 43, on Sept. 20 and an unarmed Terence Crutcher, 40, died after a Tulsa police officer shot him outside his broken-down vehicle on Sept. 16, Morin said researchers rushed to analyze data and issue this report.

“My real hope is that there’s a real honest conversation. That’s what’s needed more than anything — honest conversations between whites and blacks.”

This was the first time Pew Research Center has asked this question in a survey, but it won’t be the last time, he said. Now, researchers have a baseline, they hope to continue to gauge community trust in law enforcement, he said.

“My real hope is that there’s a real honest conversation,” Morin said. “That’s what’s needed more than anything — honest conversations between whites and blacks. That’s what we hope this survey contributes to.”

The post Blacks, whites live in ‘different worlds’ when it comes to police relations appeared first on PBS NewsHour.