UCOPS Goals

Four out of five voters have a favorable opinion of local law enforcement officers. The survey found overwhelmingly positive views of “local law enforcement officers,” with 82 percent saying they hold a favorable impression, and fully 45 percent saying they hold a “very favorable” impression. Just 14 percent indicate holding an unfavorable view of local law enforcement officers, and a mere four percent are “very unfavorable.”

Positive impressions of local law enforcement officers tend to be grounded in the view that officers put their lives on the line doing a dangerous and challenging job. When asked how well a number of different phrases describe local law enforcement officers “meaning the police officers and sheriff’s deputies working in your community,” there is near unanimity about the challenging nature of these jobs.

As the previous graph demonstrates, overwhelming majorities of American voters also describe law enforcement officers in their communities as caring about the people they serve, professional, accountable, trustworthy, and fair in enforcing laws and how they treat people.

Far fewer voters believe more negative characteristics describe law enforcement officers in their areas: 39 percent say “often use too much force when making arrests” describes local officers, although only 13 percent say it describes them “very well” and 34 percent say that “biased against African Americans and people of color” describes local officers although again just 14 percent say it describes them “very well.” That said, just over two-thirds of African Americans say these describe local law enforcement officers well to them (68 percent and 66 percent, respectively).

While the vast majority of American voters view local law enforcement officers as “well-trained,” voters would like to see law enforcement receive more training, particularly on handling the stress of their jobs, interacting with the mentally ill, and de-escalating conflicts. The vast majority say every single type of training is extremely or very important for law enforcement officers in their area to receive that kind of training, as evidenced in the following graph:

U.S. voters also express very strong support for a number of policies that would benefit public safety. Some of these policies receive nearly universal support, including…

  • “Increase and improve training for police officers on de-escalating conflicts with people experiencing mental illness or chronic homelessness” 96 percent support (72 percent strongly support)
  • “Increase anti-poverty programs in high crime communities, such as job training, skilled trades apprenticeships, and education programs” 96 percent support (70 percent strongly support)
  • “Increase and improve services for the mentally ill” 96 percent support (69 percent strongly support)
  • “Educating the public to understand how better to interact with law enforcement officers in tense situations and their rights to file complaints and seek solutions afterward if an officer oversteps his or her authority” 94 percent support (63 percent strongly support)
  • “Require those convicted of drug-related crimes participate in drug treatment programs to help ensure they receive help for chronic drug abuse” 93 percent support (63 percent strongly support)
Support for these public safety efforts is also broad-based and widespread, with majorities of all major demographic groups supporting each policy, including across political lines, ages, racial/ethnic groups, education levels, and regions of the country.