Poll Shows Race Divides Opinions On Police Use Of Force

Support For Body Cameras Crosses Racial Lines

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A new poll measuring public attitudes about police use of deadly force finds a stark racial divide, though there does appear to be broad support for requiring police to wear body cameras.

The poll by Associated Press-NORC, a Chicago-based public affairs research center, found that 80 percent of black respondents believe police are too quick to use deadly force, especially with a black person.

Former Madison Police Chief David Couper said the results reinforce the need for a new kind of community police officer: “Officers who are willing to recognize the unconscious bias in their lives, are willing to be unconditionally respectful to other people and are willing to make a commitment not to use deadly force as much as they can.”

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Couper also said police departments should look to European law enforcement for guidance on new training for officers in the use of deadly force.

“You don’t have to pump 16 rounds into somebody’s chest to stop an assault,” he said.

According to Couper, the question police departments are struggling with is whether there can be police use of less-than-deadly-force with a firearm.

The president of the statewide police union, Jim Palmer, said the poll mirrors results of one the union carried out in March. It found that 82 percent of respondents favored the use of body cameras. The recent Chicago poll found 70 percent of all respondents said cameras would help reduce police violence against civilians.

Palmer said the racial divide results on use of deadly force are also similar. In their poll, 63 percent of white people believe police use of deadly force is always or usually justified. Only 24 percent of racial minority group members shared that belief.

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