Poll: Utahns Have Few Concerns About Police Actions

Utah is made up, mostly, of conservative white people.

So it should be no surprise that a new UtahPolicy poll asking questions about the “militarization” of local police forces and whether police use “deadly force” too often would find that most Utahns side with the cops.

After all, recent cases of questionable police actions stem from white officers and/or citizens harming or killing minorities.

And while we have plenty of white police officers in Utah, we don’t have many minorities.

But pollster Dan Jones & Associates also found in a new survey that women question the actions of police more often than men, and especially young adults question police, and are more concerned about their actions.

In the 1980s, after a shooting of an African-American man by Salt Lake City police, the police chief was asked if he worried about a riot.

“Where would (Black Salt Lakers) riot?” he commented, “In a phone booth?”

Perhaps not the most sensitive response, but the chief was stating a fact: There weren’t enough numbers of Salt Lake African-Americans to really riot in the town back then.

But that certainly was not the case in Ferguson, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, where rioting and looting broke out several weeks ago after a Black youth was shot and killed by a white police officer.

In many American cities, young Black men are tired of being stopped, questioned and treated poorly by police officers.

And the response of the Ferguson police – with riot gear and heavily armed former-military vehicles – has brought questioning from many quarters.

You won’t find much questioning of policy actions by Utahns, however, the new Jones poll finds.

But you do find a real difference in opinion about police actions by younger Utahns.

Just one question’s example:

Asked on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “not at all concerned” and 5 being “extremely concerned” 33 percent of all those polled said they are concerned about police brutality in their cities or counties.

And 39 percent said they were not concerned about police brutality.

 

 

But asked that same question of those 18-24 years old and the answers are very different: Only 15 percent are not concerned, while 58 percent are concerned.

Clearly, the youth are more worried about how cops are acting in their Utah hometowns.

And if the youths’ opinions on cops don’t change as they grow older – well – it is not a good trend for law enforcement respect ahead.

One flash point in recent years in the cops vs. suspected wrongdoers are amateur videos taken by passersby/suspects of police actions.

Often these videos come late to the incident, and missed are recordings of early cop/citizen interaction.

Ferguson police, for example, didn’t have what’s called 
body cameras” – which can videotape the whole interaction with suspects.

All ages of Utahns, men and women, greatly approve of local police wearing, and using, body cameras.

Jones found that 83 percent of Utahns favor cops wearing the devices, only 8 percent said no.

Whether police officers – and their attorneys – want to wear such recording devices is unclear.

 

 

After all, consider your work place. Would you want to have to wear body cameras all day, recording what you are doing and how you are interacting with coworkers and/or clients and customers?

Finally, Utah Republicans and Democrats likely couldn’t be further apart on the question of police actions and the arming of local police forces.

Jones found:

— Just over half of all Republicans support local cops getting and using military weapons and vehicles, while only 21 percent of Republicans oppose.

— Only 37 percent of Democrats support the “militarization” of local law enforcement; 50 percent oppose.

— Sixty-nine percent of Democrats think police are “too quick” to use deadly force, only 12 percent feel police don’t act to kill too quickly.

— Thirty-percent of Republicans believe police use deadly force too quickly; 59 percent say they don’t.

— Forty percent of Republicans are not concerned about police brutality; while only 31 percent are.

— But among Democrats – only 9 percent are not concerned about police brutality; while 58 percent are.

Note to local police: Don’t want any trouble while questioning, searching, or even arresting someone? In Utah, look for an older white male Republican.

Editor’s Note: Zions Bank is a major sponsor of UtahPolicy.com and the Dan Jones & Associates polling, both of which are greatly appreciated.