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Racial Profiling is Seen as Widespread, Particularly Among Young Black Men

Racial Profiling is Seen as Widespread, Particularly Among Young Black Men

More than four out of 10 black Americans say they have been the victims of racial profiling, including almost three-quarters of young black men

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The majority of white, as well as black, Americans say that racial profiling is widespread in the United States today. In a new Gallup Poll Social Audit on Black/White Relations in the U.S, 59% of a sample of national adults aged 18 and older say that racial profiling is widespread. Racial profiling is defined in the question as the practice by which "police officers stop motorists of certain racial or ethnic groups because the officers believe that these groups are more likely than others to commit certain types of crimes." This description of racial profiling definition, which is neutral in tone, leaves open the possibility that some might see racial profiling in positive terms. This, however, is not the case: 81% percent of the American public say they disapprove of the practice.

There are few regional differences in the perception of the incidence of racial profiling, although it is more likely to by considered widespread by those living in urban areas than those living in suburban and rural America.

The biggest differences regarding racial profiling observed in the survey are by race. Seventy-seven percent of blacks say that racial profiling is widespread, compared to 56% of whites. Eighty percent or more of both whites and blacks disapprove of the practice, however.

Racial Profiling
"It has been reported that some police officers stop motorists of certain racial or ethnic groups because the officers believe that these groups are more likely than others to commit certain types of crimes. Do you believe that this practice, known as "racial profiling," is widespread or not?"

  Widespread Not Widespread Don't Know
  % % %
TOTAL 59 34 7
Whites 56 38 6
Blacks 77 16 7

More than Four out of 10 Blacks Have Been Stopped Because of Their Race
Just how widespread is racial profiling? Americans were asked if they had ever been stopped just because of their race or ethnic background. More than four out of ten blacks responded "yes." For blacks, such incidents are not isolated events. About six out of ten of those who say they have been stopped because of their race say it has occurred three or more times, including 15% who say it has happened eleven or more times:

"Have you ever felt that you were stopped by the police just because of your race or ethnic background?"

  Yes No Don't
Know
  % % %
TOTAL 11 89 --
Whites 6 94 --
Blacks 42 57 1

"How many times do you feel this has happened to you in your lifetime?"
(Base: Those who felt they were stopped by the police because of race/ethnicity)

  1-2 times 3-5 times 6-10 times 11 or more times
  % % % %
TOTAL 37 30 16 15
Whites 53 17 17 13
Blacks 27 39 15 15

Almost Three-Quarters of Young Black Men Report Having Been Stopped by Police Because of Their Race
The incidence of having been stopped on the basis of skin color or ethnic background varies widely by age and gender within the black population in this country. In particular, it is black men, and especiallyyoungblack men, aged 18-34, who are most likely to report having been stopped because of their race:

"Have you ever felt that you were stopped by the police just because of your race or ethnic background?"

  Yes No Don't
Know
  % % %
Men
18-34 72 28 --
35-49 60 40 --
50+ 32 65 3
Women
18-34 40 60 --
35-49 34 65 1
50+ 14 82 4

Almost three-quarters of young black men say believe they have been stopped by police because of their race or ethnic background. This can be compared to the much smaller number of young black women -- 40% -- who perceive themselves to have been the victim of racial profiling, and with the small percentages of both black women and men ages 50 and older who say they have been stopped because of their race.

There are few differences in these self-reported numbers by education or income among blacks. Well-educated, higher-income blacks are as likely to report being pulled over as those with lower levels of education and lower incomes.

Black Americans More Negative Toward Police than Whites
Americans were asked to give their opinion -- either favorable or unfavorable -- of the local police and the state police in their area.

Although a good deal of the publicity about racial profiling has been focused on the state troopers who patrol America's major interstate highways, there appears to be slightly more animosity by black respondents toward their local police. There is very little difference in attitudes toward "your local police" and "state police or state troopers in your area" among whites -- 85% of whites have a favorable opinion of the former, and 87% of whites have a favorable opinion of the latter. Blacks, however, have a less favorable opinion of both: 58% have a favorable opinion of their local police, and 64% of state troopers. Looked at differently, about 36% of blacks have an unfavorable opinion of local police, and 26% have an unfavorable opinion of their state police.

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of [ROTATE A-B]?

A. Your local police

  Favorable Unfavorable Don't Know
  % % %
TOTAL 81 17 2
Blacks 58 36 6
Whites 85 13 2

B. State police or state troopers in your area

  Favorable Unfavorable Don't Know
  % % %
TOTAL 83 11 6
Blacks 64 26 10
Whites 87 8 5

Who is most likely to have an unfavorable opinion of local police? Again, the differences by age and gender within the black population are striking:

Opinion of Local Police

  Favorable Unfavorable
  % %
Black Men
18-34 43 54
35-49 67 30
50+ 69 23
Black Women
18-34 52 41
35-49 60 36
50+ 64 27

More than half of the young black men included in the sample say that they have an unfavorable opinion of the local police in their area, which is in sharp contrast to the attitudes of black men 35 and older.

A slightly different pattern exists in terms of attitudes toward state police. Black women in the young and middle-age categories are generally similar in their views about state police as comparably aged black men. However, older black women (age 50+) tend to view state police more negatively than older men.

Opinion of State Police

  Favorable Unfavorable Don't Know
  % % %
Black Men
18-34 55 35 10
35-49 66 28 7
50+ 81 9 10
Black Women
18-34 57 36 7
35-49 64 25 11
50+ 67 19 14

Young Black Men Also Most Likely to Say they Have Been Treated Unfairly by Police
A slightly different perspective on the relationship between Americans and police was obtained in the poll when individuals were asked about their specific experiences with their local police, the state police in their state, and the state police in states through which they travel:

Do you feel you are treated fairly by each of the following or not? [ROTATE A-C]?

A. The state police or state troopers in your state

  Fairly Not Fairly Not
Applicable
DK/
Refused
  % % % %
TOTAL 86 6 6 2
Blacks 69 17 10 4
Whites 89 4 6 1

B. The local police in your area

  Fairly Not Fairly Not
Applicable
DK/
Refused
  % % % %
TOTAL 87 10 3 --
Blacks 66 27 5 2
Whites 91 7 2 0

C. The state police or state troopers in other states you travel through

  Fairly Not Fairly Not
Applicable
DK/
Refused
  % % % %
TOTAL 74 11 13 2
Blacks 55 24 18 3
Whites 78 8 12 2

For whites, the numbers who have been treated unfairly by any of these three entities is very small: 7% for local police, 4% for state police in your area, and 8% for state police in other states.

For blacks, the numbers are larger. Almost three out of ten blacks -- 27% -- say they have been treated unfairly by their local police, while 24% feel they have been treated unfairly by state police in other states and 17% by state police in their state.

The differences by age and gender on this message of perceived treatment by police are profound:

  Local police State police in
your state
State police in
other states
  Treated
Fairly
Not
Treated
Fairly
Treated
Fairly
Not
Treated
Fairly
Treated
Fairly
Not
Treated
Fairly
  % % % % % %
Black Men
18-34 43 53 58 29 44 41
35-49 71 23 64 22 56 26
50+ 68 22 86 6 60 12
Black Women
18-34 67 26 71 21 57 29
35-49 75 19 75 16 54 27
50+ 71 18 67 8 62 6

Again, the largest perceptions of unfair treatment come with young black men, particularly in relationship to their local police. More than half -- 53% -- of black men 18-34 say that they are treated unfairly by the local police in their area. In terms of state police in states through which they travel, it is about a break-even situation for these young black men -- 44% say they have been treated fairly, while 41% say unfairly. Perceptions of unfair treatment among this group are less pronounced when it comes to state police in their state; 58% say they have been treated fairly, while 29% say they have not been treated fairly.

Survey Methods
The study is based on 2,006 telephone interviews conducted September 24-November 16, 1999, with a randomly selected sample of adults in the continental United States. For results based on a sample of this size, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error for percentages is not greater than +4 percentage points. The parallel margins of sampling error are +4 percentage points for the sample of 934 white respondents, and +5 percentage points for the sample of 1,001 black respondents.

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of [ROTATE A-B]?

A. Your local police

    Favorable Unfavorable DK/ Refused Sample Size
    % % %  
TOTAL 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 81 17 2 2,006
Blacks 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 58 36 6 1,001
Whites 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 85 13 2 934

B. State police or state troopers in your area

    Favorable Unfavorable Refused Sample Size
    % % %  
TOTAL 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 83 11 6 2,006
Blacks 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 64 26 10 1,001
Whites 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 87 8 5 934

Do you feel you are treated fairly by each of the following or not? [ROTATE A-C]?

A. The state police or state troopers in your state

    Fairly Not Fairly Not
Applicable
DK/
Refused
Sample
Size
    % % % %  
TOTAL 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 86 6 6 2 2,006
Blacks 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 69 17 10 4 1,001
Whites 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 89 4 6 1 934

B. The local police in your area

    Fairly Not Fairly Not
Applicable
DK/
Refused
Sample
Size
    % % % %  
TOTAL 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 87 10 3 -- 2,006
Blacks 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 66 27 5 2 1,001
Whites 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 91 7 2 -- 934

C. The state police or state troopers in other states you travel through

    Fairly Not Fairly Not
Applicable
DK/
Refused
Sample
Size
    % % % %  
TOTAL 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 74 11 13 2 2,006
Blacks 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 55 24 18 3 1,001
Whites 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 78 8 12 2 934

It has been reported that some police officers stop motorists of certain racial or ethnic groups because the officers believe that these groups are more likely than others to commit certain types of crimes. Do you believe that this practice, known as "racial profiling," is widespread or not?

    Widespread Not Widespread Don't Know Sample Size
    % % %  
TOTAL 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 59 34 7 2,006
Blacks 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 77 16 7 1,001
Whites 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 56 38 6 934

Do you approve or disapprove of the use of "racial profiling" by police?

    Approve Disapprove DK/ Refused Sample Size
    % % %  
TOTAL 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 14 81 5 2,006
Blacks 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 9 87 4 1,001
Whites 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 15 80 5 934

Have you ever felt that you were stopped by the police just because of your race or ethnic background?

    Yes No DK/ Refused Sample Size
    % % %  
TOTAL 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 11 89 -- 2,006
Blacks 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 42 57 1 1,001
Whites 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 6 94 -- 934

How many times do you feel this has happened to you in your lifetime? (Base: those who were stopped by the police just because of their race or ethnic background)

    1 2 3 4 5 6-10 11-25 26+ DK/ Ref Sample Size
    % % % % % % % % %  
TOTAL 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 17 20 13 9 9 16 9 6 1 471
Blacks 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 14 13 17 12 11 15 9 6 3 397
Whites 99 Sep 24-Nov 16 22 31 3 7 7 17 13 -- -- 51
Gallup

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Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/3421/racial-profiling-seen-widespread-particularly-among-young-black-men.aspx
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