On the whole, officers now feel less safe, are more cautious about using appropriate force, and are less likely to stop and investigate suspicious activity, a poll has revealed.
But not all cops think the same – and black cops are considerably more cynical about the force than their white colleagues, the Pew Research Center has revealed.
say their jobs have become harder (pictured: a man facing off with Baltimore cops in May 2016)
The poll, which questioned 7,917 white, black and Latino police officers across the country, asked police how their jobs had changed in recent times.
It comes after a year in which the high-profile killings of numerous black men – many unarmed – by white police officers led to protests by the Black Lives Matter movement.
The poll found that 86 per cent of all police questioned now believe their job has become harder.
Some 12 per cent said there was no difference, just 0.5 per cent said it had gotten easier and the rest gave no answer.
A major factor in that is a fear of being harmed: A massive 93 per cent of officers said that they now felt less safe working their jobs.
Following a year in which 63 officers were shot dead – including many in ambushes such as the five slain in the Dallas massacre on July 7 – according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, that is hardly surprising.
But it has led to a two-way tension between officers, with 75 per cent of all police saying that interactions between cops and black civilians are now more tense.
That in turn is affecting how they do their jobs: 76 per cent said they are more reluctant to use ‘appropriate force’.
And 72 per cent are less willing to stop and question people that they think are suspicious.
Opinions aren’t uniform across all races, however.
The poll also asked three ethnic groups of cops – black, white and Hispanic – how they saw race relations between the police and ethnic communities.
A majority of white and Hispanic cops (both 60 per cent) said relations between police and their black communities were good or excellent; just 32 per cent of black cops said the same.
Black cops were also cynical about relationships between Hispanic communities and police – possibly because of their experiences with and inside black communities – with only 46 per cent saying that they were excellent or good.
Perhaps surprisingly, 71 per cent of Hispanic cops said the relationships were excellent or good, while 76 per cent of white cops agreed.
With regard to Asian communities, the 75 per cent of blacks, 88 per cent of Hispanics and 91 per cent of whites said relationships were excellent or good.
In total 67 per cent of all police said the highly publicized killings of black citizens are isolated incidents, compared to 31 per cent who said they indicated broader problems.
But when breaking the stats down by race, 57 per cent of black officers believe there is a wider issue compared to 27 per cent of whites and 26 per cent of Hispanics.
And when it comes to Black Lives Matter and other protests against police brutality, the racial divide is clear again.
Of black officers, 69 per cent say the protests were sincere in their demands for police accountability, compared to 27 per cent of whites.
Other differences show that more whites fired their weapons on duty than black or Hispanic officers (31 per cent compared to 21 and 20 per cent, respectively).
And black officers were far less likely to have had a physical altercation with suspects (20 per cent compared to 36 and 30 per cent).