Police officers in the U.S. are under fire again this summer and are taking heat after a few shocking and unacceptable incidents of alleged police brutality, some caught on video and shared widely via social media.
“Tension is building,” as the Duluth News Tribune opinion page said recently. “Community-officer relations are fragile and tenuous at best.”
But apparently that’s elsewhere and not so much here in Minnesota. Polling in June found an overwhelmingly positive view of, and overwhelming support for, law enforcement and officers in our state.
“The survey results demonstrate that recent nationwide events have had a negligible impact on public opinion of ‘their’ local police in Minnesota,” the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association said in announcing the poll results. “The Minnesota survey data finds an overwhelmingly positive view of local law enforcement across the state.”
Indeed, 90 percent of Minnesotans polled this summer indicated they approved of or strongly approved of the way their “local police force handles its job.” The endorsement was equally shared by men (89 percent) and women (91 percent) as well as by Republicans (90 percent) and Democrats (89 percent). Most Minnesotans — 91 percent — feel safe, the results indicated. Suburbanites feel the safest at 98 percent. A full 86 percent of those surveyed said they had mostly positive “personal interactions with the local police,” the association reported. Nearly three-fourths characterized their interactions as very positive.
Public trust seems to be intact, too, in Minnesota; 85 percent of Minnesotans indicated they trusted “local law enforcement officers to use good judgment in their use of deadly force.” Suburbanites most trust officers at 91 percent. In rural Minnesota, 85 percent of residents trust the police.
Last month’s survey in Minnesota was conducted by Harper Polling of Pennsylvania. It involved 450 registered Minnesota voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.62 percent. The polling was done June 15-16.
“As a profession that has seen a great amount of scrutiny from around the country, it is encouraging to see that the citizens of Minnesota recognize that our state’s police officers face life-and-death situations on a daily basis and continue to do their jobs because they truly care about the public that they serve,” Dennis Flaherty, executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, said in a statement that accompanied the poll results. “In Minnesota, we have set high professional standards and reporting for our licensed police officers.
“If you ask cadets coming out of law enforcement programs, they will tell you, they go into this profession to serve the public and to make the communities in which they live and work a better place, and today’s public opinion numbers illustrate that the public does in fact believe they are an integral stitch in the cloth of the community,” Flaherty said.
While police officers should be held to the highest of standards, the wave of anti-police sentiment that continues to persist in the U.S. this summer permeates from the unfortunate and very wrong actions of only a few officers. There are nearly 900,000 officers nationwide. All but a few deserve the support and respect that clearly is being shown by the vast majority of Minnesotans.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE DULUTH NEWS TRIBUNE