Two-thirds of Utahns believe their local police treat all people fairly and equally, a new poll shows.
But a fifth say police don’t treat all people the same.
And multiracial Utahns are split on the police/equality issue – 45 percent say police treat all citizens fairly and equally and 45 percent say they don’t.
Utahns are overwhelmingly white and law abiding. We have fewer numbers of our citizens in jails and prisons per capita than any other state.
Still, there have been a spate of police-caused shooting deaths in recent months, raising questions and concerns about how our law enforcements officers treat people, how they approach situations that could become violent.
A recent Dan Jones & Associates poll conducted for the Exoro Group and Zions Bank’s pre-legislative conference sheds some light on how Utahns feel about their police and the job local cops are doing.
Meanwhile, those who support our local police and sheriffs held a rally Thursday in the State Capitol, cheering law officers, their families and all their efforts on behalf of citizens.
Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Cory Wride’s widow, Nanette, said it was just a year ago that she and her husband went on a date, and the next day – today – he was killed as he sat in his patrol car, checking license plate numbers on a vehicle in front of him. Wride was shot through his windshield, and Nanette Wilde and others have set up a foundation raising money for bulletproof cop car windows, along with other needs.
Nanette Wride read a letter that Cory had written as part of a police officer ethics program he spoke at.
Quoting Cory, she said: “You are a police officer, and are held to a higher standard. Make us proud.”
The families of the last five Utah law officers killed were honored at the memorial service. Since statehood, 137 law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty here.
Nanette Wride said recently a lot of bad things have been said about police officers across the country, “but,” she said, “there is a lot more good” that is being done by cops across the nation who leave their families every day for duty, and don’t know if they will be coming home.
At the heart of the national debate is whether police officers – especially white police officers – treat people of color the same way they treat white Americans.
Are cops too quick to use deadly force against people of color?
The new poll shows most Utahns don’t have those concerns.
Sixty-six percent of Utahns agree with the statement that local police officers treat all people with fairness and equality.
Twenty-two percent disagree with that statement – meaning they think local cops treat people differently, and 13 percent said they didn’t know.
One idea floated nationally is that police should not be able to use deadly force – that is, shoot someone with the intent of killing them – while responding to a crime in progress.
Fifty-seven percent of Utahns disagree that with idea.
Twenty-five percent say that is a good idea to impose on police actions, and 1 percent didn’t know, and 16 percent were neutral.
When Hispanics were asked if deadly force by police should be restricted when responding to a crime in progress, 50 percent said no, but 29 percent said yes, and 21 percent were neutral on the question – neither for nor against.
When multiracial Utahns were asked the same question, 45 percent said cops should be able to use deadly force in those situations, 18 percent said no and 36 percent were neutral.
Jones finds that 65 percent of all Utahns disagree with the suggestion that police should be restricted in using ANY force while enforcing the law – only 26 percent say some restricts on force should be employed.
Not surprisingly, 66 percent of white Utahns say don’t restrict police actions, a fourth say to do so.
Hispanic Utahns favor police’s use of force, 57-29 percent.
But, again, multiracial Utahns are split – 36 percent say police force should be restricted, 36 percent say not, don’t do that, and 27 percent don’t know.
Jones conducted the survey between Dec. 22 and Jan. 10, with 715 registered voters polled, margin of error plus or minus 3.66 percent.
Asked if they “trust law enforcement in my local community to use their powers ethically and appropriately," most Utahns, again, side with the cops.
Eighty-four percent agree with that statement, 10 disagree and 6 percent didn’t know.
Among whites, 84 percent believe cops act ethically and appropriately, 9 percent don’t and 6 percent didn’t know.
Seventy-nine percent of Hispanics agree with the statement, 14 percent disagree, 7 percent don’t know.
Among those who are multiracial, 64 percent believe police act ethically and appropriately, 27 percent don’t and 9 percent didn’t know.
So, the poll is clear that by far most Utahns like and trust their local police and sheriff deputies – but a number in our minority communities still have problems with law enforcement officers.