IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Poll: Most Americans don't think cops treat racial groups equally

The majority of African-Americans think police departments across the country act unfairly toward different racial and ethnic groups, a new poll found.
Police officers in riot gear stand in position as demonstrators protest the shooting death of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri
Police officers in riot gear stand in position as demonstrators protest the shooting death of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo. on Aug. 19, 2014.

Following the death of unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, most Americans don't have confidence in police departments holding officers accountable for misconduct nor treating different racial groups fairly.

A new Pew Research Center/USA Today poll found that the public by 2-to-1 doesn't think departments across the country treat racial groups equally, use the proper amount of force, nor penalize cops for acting immorally. White people ranked law enforcement low on each of those measures, but African-Americans were overwhelmingly negative in their views toward police.

The majority — 70% — of blacks said police departments nationwide do a "poor job" both in holding officers accountable for misconduct and of treating racial and ethnic groups fairly, according to the poll. Fifty-seven percent of African-Americans believed police also do a "poor job" of using the correct amount of force.

Fifty-eight percent of whites said the departments are "only fair" or do a "poor job" both in penalizing officers for acting immorally and managing different groups equally.

The poll, published the same day as Brown's funeral on Monday, was conducted between Aug. 20 and Aug. 24 among 1,501 adults. It revealed only slight changes to a 2009 survey to the ways whites and blacks view the police.

Related: How the crisis in Ferguson unfolded, in photographs

The death of 18-year-old Brown by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9 opened up a national discussion about race and the use of police force. Protesters repeatedly demonstrated in the streets of the St. Louis suburb, often turning peaceful rallies violent and causing officers to throw tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd.

More than two weeks after the teen's death, Brown's family continues to call for justice and peace among the community. Among various demands, residents have asked that Wilson be fired from the police department, charged, and prosecuted, and that Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson and Mayor James Knowles resign from their positions. They also push for St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch to recuse himself from the Brown case.

In a separate New York Times/CBS News poll published last week, 57% of black Americans and 18% of white residents said the killing of Brown by Wilson was "not justified."