Confidence in police in the United States has dropped to the lowest level in more than two decades, with just 52 percent of Americans expressing “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence, according to a Gallup poll released on Friday.
The confidence level in police matched the low seen in 1993, when Gallup first began measuring it as a federal civil rights trial got underway over the 1991 beating of black motorist Rodney King by white Los Angeles police officers.
Since 1993, American confidence in police has ranged from the low of 52 percent to a high of 64 percent in 2004, the Gallup poll found.
The annual poll on confidence in U.S. institutions was taken earlier this month with a random sample of 1,527 adults aged 18 and older living in all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The findings come amid heightened scrutiny of the treatment of African-American men by police in the United States, an issue that flared last year after the killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City and elsewhere.
“These events likely contributed to the decline in confidence in police, although it is important to note that Americans’ trust in police has not been fundamentally shaken – it remains high in an absolute sense, despite being at a historical low,” Jeffrey Jones of Gallup said in an accompanying report.
Today, someone will have their life threatened by someone who believes their costume gives them the right to do whatever they want. As long as we think that we can hold Government accountable, nothing will change. When someone investigates and answers only to themselves, they will do what they want, when they want. We can live in a world without the the threat of being ruled by force, but first we must understand that we are free already and do not need anyone’s permission to live or exist.
“Even if you see something everyday, it does not mean it should be accepted as normal or OK”
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In what could hardly be called a surprise, the UN Human Rights Council chastised the US over its epidemic of police violence, discrimination, needless killings, and general neglect, following through with recommendations made in its first review in 2010.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) takes place every four years to scrutinize the human and civil rights practices of each of the UN’s 193 member nations. Delegates from 117 countries took the opportunity to lambaste the US’ record of civil rights violations exacted by its brutal and racist police forces.
In an attempt to fend off the inevitable, James Cadogan, a senior counselor in the Department of Justice’s Human Rights Division, said the US must “rededicate ourselves to ensuring that our civil rights laws live up to their promise,” listing several “tragic deaths” that sparked numerous demonstrations and wide-scale unrest across the country. However, he seemed to be blind to the fundamental basis for such outrage saying the US wishes to “identify and address potential policing issues before they become systemic problems,”, even asserting a fictitious good record for holding violators accountable. As Mary McLeod, acting legal adviser to the US Dept of State, put it, “We’re proud of the work we’ve done since our last UPR.” Most would disagree.
What the US representatives touted as improvements, actually do more to highlight the systemic issue they claim to be on the lookout for. Cadogan cited 400 instances in the past six years in which charges were brought against law enforcement officials, but this doesn’t figure in the disproportionately light punishment that often results from prosecution of police officers. Even his own preemptive statement, naming Michael Brown and Eric Garner as examples, speaks far more to police impunity than accountability — and is hardly reflective of the totality of incidents. Over 400 people have been killed by police in 2015 alone.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder announced new curbs Tuesday on the government’s use of civil asset forfeiture laws, saying that federal authorities will only seize bank accounts when serious illegal transactions have been documented.
The new policy amplifies an announcement in October by the Internal Revenue Service, which said its agents would use seizure authorities primarily in cases when accounts owners are clearly using the banking system for crimes.
“With this new policy, the Department of Justice is taking action to ensure that we are allocating our resources to address the most serious offenses,” Holder said in a statement. “Appropriate use of asset forfeiture law allows the Justice Department to safeguard the integrity, security and stability of our nation’s financial system while protecting the civil liberties of all Americans.”