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National survey: Police more apprehensive about their jobs

Posted at 11:58 AM, Jan 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-11 18:55:18-05

The Pew Research Center has released results from a national survey that looked at how police view their jobs.  Nearly 8,000 policemen and women from departments with at least 100 officers from across the county were surveyed between May 19 and August 14, 2016.  The survey was conducted by the National Police Research Platform.

It comes as a national debate continues about police behavior following a series of black American deaths who had encounters with police in various parts of the United States.  Attacks on police officers have also increased apprehension about officers' safety.

The study found those incidents have had a profound impact on many police departments with three-quarters of responding departments claiming the incidents have increased tensions between police and blacks in their communities.

Results showed:

86% of officers say that fatal encounters between police and blacks have made policing harder.

93% of officers have become more concerned about their own safety

76% of officers have been more reluctant to use force when it is appropriate

72% of officers have become less willing to stop and question people who seem suspicious.

-Majority of police say fatal police-black encounters are isolated incidents while the majority of the public thinks they point to a bigger problem.

-92% of white officers believe our country has made the changes needed to give blacks equal rights with whites.

-69% of black officers believe our country needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights with whites.

-Only 8% of officers see themselves as enforcers with 31% seeing themselves as protectors and 62% seeing themselves as both.

-As to how the community is treating police, 79% of officers reported being thanked for their service while on duty while 67% reported being verbally abused.

-Roughly two-thirds of officers favor the use of body cameras.

-Fatal incidents involving blacks have been felt more by larger departments rather than small agencies

-The majority of police say the public does not understand the risks and challenges that police face.

The full report is available here http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/01/11/behind-the-badge/

One group that is looking closely at the survey are instructors at Erie County's Law Enforcement Training Academy who use reports like these to create up-to-date curriculum.  7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly talked with academy director Ed Hempling about the study and academy plans to institute new forms of training to help officers work in an increasingly complex and diverse society.