As it turns out, those who have been yelling the loudest for the police to build trust with the community would be well served to work on their own trust perception. Especially when they see how the public views their professions as compared to the police profession.
The polling company Gallup has been asking a sampling of the American public to rate the honesty and ethics of numerous professions since 1976. I will admit, the police profession took a hit in this category in late 2014 compared to late 2013, but police still fare much better than many.
Gallup asked this question of their sampling:
Please tell me how you would rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields — very high, high, average, low, or very low?
The latest “high/very high” percentages for a variety of professions are:
- Police Officers 48%
- Journalists 24%
- Local Office Holders 23%
- Lawyers 21%
- Newspaper Reporters 21%
- State Governors 20%
- TV Reporters 20%
- State Office Holders 14%
- Senators 14%
- Members of Congress 7%
Now 48% should not allow the police profession to rest on its laurels. But a closer look at what Gallup found showed that when you added the other honesty and ethics ratings for police: Average (31), Low (12), Very Low (8) and No Opinion (1); the negative rating in this category for the police profession is 20%. In a profession that too often encounters individuals at low points in their life and often has to make unpopular choices, a 20% negative rating is not bad. Of course, I and many others would like to see that negative rating get to zero. Fortunately, that distance is much closer than the media would have many believe.
Ironically, despite the police being repeatedly highlighted as the profession that needs to build trust, they are actually rated by the public as having double the honesty and ethics – arguably, a fair indicator of trustworthiness – over those professions who are demanding or reporting the need for that trust building.
Makes me wonder if we are asking the right profession to wear body cameras.
The source for this information can be found at: