White and Black police officers in the United States have significantly different views on race relations in the country as well as those between the public and law enforcement, a new survey by Pew Research Center said Wednesday.
“When Black officers take off their uniforms and badges, they’re no longer police,” Rich Morin, a senior editor at Pew and the report’s lead author, said.
“They’re Black men and Black women, and they’re subject to the same kind of indignities, injustices and outright discrimination that other Black Americans report.”
The survey found that almost 70 percent of Black police officers polled view the protests that followed police killings in the country over the past few years as rooted in a genuine desire to hold police accountable.
In contrast, only 27 percent of white officers surveyed agreed with the same sentiment.
Meanwhile, when police officers are asked about race relations in the country, almost all white officers, 92 percent, think the U.S. has made the necessary changes to assure equal rights for African-Americans.
However, 71 percent of all Black officers disagree with this opinion. “Not only do the views of white officers differ from those of their black colleagues, but they stand far apart from those of whites overall: 57% of all white adults say no more changes are needed, as measured in the Center’s survey of the general public,” Pew said in its report.
The survey, which included the views of 8,000 police officers across the U.S. in interviews conducted between May and August last year, also found that 75 percent of officers told Pew their interactions with Black people had become tenser in the wake of high-profile police killings of African-Americans and the protests they generated.
The police killings and the protests that followed saw the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement out of a viral hashtag featuring the same words following a jury’s acquittal of George Zimmerman for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
It has since evolved into a movement against police killings of Black people, particularly following the high-profile cases of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Freddie Gray.