Fifty-two percent of Americans have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the police, a new poll finds, down 5% from 2013 and marking the lowest figure since 1993.
That year was the first time that Gallup included the police in questions about trusted institutions, at a time when public interest in the Rodney King case was high, during the trial of four white police officers in Los Angeles. That figure rose to a peak of 64% in 2004. Gallup suggests a number of police killings of unarmed black men in places like Ferguson, Staten Island and North Charleston, S.C., “likely contributed” to the decline.
While whites’ trust in police remained relatively high in 2014-15 at 57%—down from 60% in 2012-2013—only 30% of black Americans say they have a high level of confidence, down from 36% in 2012-13. Sixty-three percent of conservatives are confident in the police, a 3% gain since 2012-13, compared to only 44% of liberals, a 7-point dip.
Despite the drop, the police force still ranks among the most trusted institutions in America, trailing only the military and small business. Confidence in Congress is particularly low at only 8%.