BW Poll shows divide in NE Ohio on police views

Posted at 7:51 PM, Jan 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-25 19:51:19-05

Your opinion of your local police department varies widely by your race and where you live, according to the results of a new Baldwin Wallace University Northeast Ohio poll.

The survey revealed a deep divide in the perceptions of public safety, policing and race among whites and non-whites, City of Cleveland and suburban residents.

“I think that’s the tag line: if you're non-white compared to white you have a very different experience with police and that's especially true if you live in the city of Cleveland,” said Lauren Copeland, associate director of the Baldwin-Wallace Community Research Insititute.

The report found that “non-white respondents (largely comprised of those who identify as black/African American) are more likely to feel less safe in their neighborhoods, have less faith in the police to protect them, and to be less optimistic that racial tension in the U.S. will be resolved in the future.”

Other findings according to the survey:

  • Residents of Cleveland have much less confidence in the ability of the police to protect people in their neighborhood. They are also twice as likely to believe that police act differently towards different groups of people.
  • Whites are far more likely to rate the professionalism of their police department as good, and are two-and-a-half times (151 percent) as likely to agree that the police will protect them. In addition, whites are much less likely to believe their police department acts differently towards different groups of people.
  • Residents of Cleveland are significantly more likely than their suburban counterparts to report tension between races as a problem in their neighborhoods.

"As far as race certainly the national conversation is very similar where you have constant stories of people talking about being pulled over driving while black, by being treated negatively by police based on their race. Whether or not that perception is accurate it is the perception,” said CRI Director Tom Sutton.

Asked for comment on the findings of the survey a Cleveland Police spokesperson said the department doesn’t comment on data obtained by another agency, Sutton believes it's worth reviewing.

"This is more than just about training and the use of force and I think the residents of Cleveland see all the attention being paid to the Republican National Convention to the building of this new corridor that’s going to go through University Circle and asking themselves, you're able to do all of these things—why can't you do more for our public safety, which is the most fundamental function of government?" he said.


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