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Reluctant policing

Cops say high-profile incidents of police violence have made their job harder

Cops say they’re becoming reluctant to question people or use force

A majority of police officers say the reaction to high-profile incidents of police violence in recent years has made their jobs harder, according to a new Pew Research Center study.

The online survey of nearly 8,000 officers in the U.S., conducted for Pew by the National Police Research Platform, shows how police view their jobs and communities amid public calls for policing reforms:

  • 75 percent of officers said high-profile police shootings have increased tensions between police officers and African-Americans in their communities;
  • 72 percent said they are less willing to stop and question suspicious-seeming people;
  • 76 percent said they are now more reluctant to use force when it’s appropriate.

The survey doesn’t link these views to the documented rise in homicides since 2015, and researchers have questioned whether there is a connection.

The survey also showed divides between police opinion and public opinion: Most officers said fatal police encounters with black people are isolated incidents, while the public has mostly said they indicate a bigger problem. Police were also less likely than members of the public to say more changes are needed to achieve racial equality.

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