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A new Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted after the beating death of Tyre Nichols shows 60 percent of Americans are not confident that police are adequately trained to avoid excessive force.
Polling a random sample of 1,003 adults across racial and political backgrounds, the survey also found that a majority of White Americans lack confidence in the police. It’s the first time that White Americans’ confidence in the police has dropped below 50 percent since the outlets began polling on the issue in 2014.
The poll, which was conducted between Jan. 27 and Feb. 1, comes after seven Memphis Police officers and three EMT technicians have faced disciplined for their roles in beating an unarmed, non-combative 29-year-old Tyre Nichols on Jan. 7. He died three days later in the hospital.
The five Black MPD officers of the now-disbanded Scorpion Unit, who were seen taking turns punching, kicking and bludgeoning a defenseless father have been fired and face murder charges.
MPD has declined to provide details about any pending discipline for the others who’ve been relieved of duty.
Poll shows trust in police decreasing across all demographics
According to the new poll, only 48 percent of White Americans, 33 percent of Hispanic Americans, and 12 percent of Black Americans are confident that police treat Black and White Americans equally.
As the killing of Tyre Nichols makes him one of the latest martyrs in the U.S. criminal legal system, the poll shows that White Americans’ perceptions are becoming more in-line with their more melanin-rich neighbors on their views of police.
Following the police lynching of George Floyd in May 2020, the same poll that year found that 55 percent of White Americans held confidence in the police, a number that was even higher when the poll was first conducted in 2014.
Across political lines, 20 percent of Democrats, 39 percent of Independents, and 60 percent of Republicans are confident that police are adequately trained to avoid excessive force. While Republicans still hold far more confidence in law enforcement than those from other political parties, it’s a stark drop from 77 percent who held those beliefs in 2020.
As the released footage of the beating of Tyre Nichols reveals the lies police told after the initial encounter, an appetite for action swells across the country.
As the latest poll shows, widespread support for addressing police brutality appears closer than ever. What measures political leaders decide to take to actually prevent these injustices, however, remains to be seen.