Most White People Are Really Confident Their Local Police Treat Races Equally

California Highway Patrol officers push back protesters who blocked Highway 80 in response to police killings in Missouri and
California Highway Patrol officers push back protesters who blocked Highway 80 in response to police killings in Missouri and New York in Berkeley, Calif., Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Most white Americans think their police departments treat black and white people equally -- and some polling suggests recent events have left them more sure than ever.

An NBC/Marist poll released Sunday found that 52 percent of whites, compared with just 12 percent of blacks, have a great deal of confidence that police officers in their community treat blacks and whites equally. More broadly, 82 percent of blacks, and just 39 percent of whites, say law enforcement applies different standards to whites and blacks.

As The Washington Post's Scott Clement notes, while black Americans' ratings haven't changed all that much from past surveys, white confidence in officers' fairness appears to have actually grown 11 points from what was found in a September NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. It's now higher than it's been in six different surveys conducted by other pollsters, dating back to 1995.

The results may speak to something of a disconnect between Americans' perception of their own local police, and their opinions on incidents taking place elsewhere.

Both white and black Americans have more trust in local police than they do in the police nationally, but the gap is especially glaring among whites. An August Pew Research poll found whites were 26 points more likely to say they had a great deal of faith in their community than they were to say police forces across the country did an excellent job of treating ethnic groups equally, while black Americans were 14 points more likely.

Another poll conducted for HuffPost by YouGov found that 58 percent of black Americans, and just 25 percent of white Americans, think there's police brutality in their area. Whites were 31 points more likely to report good personal experiences with the police, and 13 points more likely to say that calling the cops during a dispute was likely to help resolve the situation peacefully.

HuffPost/YouGov polling also found that blacks are almost two and a half times more likely than whites to view the shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer as part of a wider pattern in how police officers treat black men.

The NBC/Marist poll surveyed 1,018 adults Dec. 4-5, using live telephone interviews to reach both landlines and cell phones.



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