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​Police and Public Safety

An AP-NORC Poll conducted in September 2019 looks at differences in how blacks and whites view racial discrimination in policing and public safety.

​Overall, nearly two-thirds of the public think white people are treated more fairly than black people when dealing with the police. Fewer, about half, believe whites are treated more fairly than blacks when applying for jobs or while shopping in stores or malls. Just 37% think white people are treated more fairly than blacks when getting healthcare from doctors or hospitals. 

More than 7 in 10 blacks say whites receive better treatment than blacks in each of these circumstances. And a large majority of whites and Hispanics also say whites have an easier time interacting the police.  

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Question: Thinking generally about the following situations in the United States, would you say black people are treated more fairly than white people, white people are treated more fairly than black people or don’t you think race affects how people are treated?
Source: AP-NORC poll conducted September 20-23, 2019, with 1,286 adults

Fifty-five percent believe police are more likely to use deadly force against a black person than they are a white person, while 41% say race does not affect the use of deadly force. Just 3% say police officers are more likely to use deadly force against a white person than a black person. 

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Question: In general, do you think the police in most communities are more likely to use deadly force against a black person, or more likely to use it against a white person, or don't you think race affects police use of deadly force?
Source: AP-NORC poll conducted September 20-23, 2019, with 1,286 adults

Thirty-six percent of Americans view police violence against the public in the United States as a very or extremely serious problem. Blacks are more likely to say police violence is a very or extremely serious problem than are whites or Hispanics.  

police_10_2_19_pic3.pngQuestion: How serious a problem do you think police violence against the public is in the United States?Source: AP-NORC poll conducted September 20-23, 2019, with 1,286 adults and AP-NORC poll conducted July 17-20, 2015, with 1,223 adults


The threat faced by civilians from police is a concern among Americans, particularly among blacks. But violence against police by the public is increasingly viewed as a problem. Forty-six percent say violence against the police is an extremely or very serious problem in the United States, up from 38% in 2015.  

About a third of all Americans feel unsafe in public because of their race or ethnicity. Blacks and Hispanics are more than twice as likely to say they feel unsafe as whites. A similar percentage feel unsafe in public around people of other races or ethnicities.

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Question: How often would you say you feel unsafe in public because of your race or ethnicity?/
How often would you say you feel unsafe in public around people of other races or ethnicities?
Source: AP-NORC poll conducted September 20-23, 2019, with 1,286 adults

The nationwide poll was conducted September 20-23, 2019, using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,286 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.





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