Survey: More Than 80 Percent Of Respondents Approve Of How Police Handle Their Job

400 Wisconsin Residents Were Surveyed

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A survey by the Wisconsin Professional Police Association found 84 percent of respondents approved of how police handle their job.

The survey, conducted by St. Norbert College’s Strategic Research Institute, recorded responses from 400 state residents by random digit dialing between March 7 and April 1.

Of the respondents, 43 percent said they believed “most people” shot and killed by police were armed, but the association reported every person fatally shot by the Wisconsin police last year had a weapon.

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Steve Brandl, a criminal justice professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said situations requiring deadly force can sometimes be hard to understand.

“It’s actually not surprising that citizens don’t have an accurate understanding of the circumstances under which police use force and in this case deadly force,” Brandl said. “I think that any efforts to help educate the community is a good thing.”

About 40 percent of respondents said deadly force was justified “most of the time,” while 14 percent said it was justified “all the time.”

Brandl said high approval ratings aren’t consistent in every part of the state.

“There are very clear racial differences in perceptions of the police and criminal justice system,” he said. “Members of racial minority groups, especially African-American folks, consistently rate the police lower than white folks.”

He said that could be because some policing strategies disproportionately target predominantly minority communities.

More than 60 percent of people surveyed said they thought most people shot by Wisconsin police were black or another minority. The association said in reality 70 percent of people shot by police in the state last year were white.