Minnesotans’ opinions on police appear to be “overwhelmingly positive,” according to survey results released Monday by the state’s largest law enforcement organization.
Despite national and local fatal shootings by officers that have thrust police into a more scrutinizing spotlight, 90 percent of Minnesotans polled said they approved of the way their local police handled its job and 86 percent said their personal interactions with local police have been positive, according to the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (MPPOA).
Out of 450 people surveyed on June 15 and 16, 85 percent said they trusted officers to have good judgment in their use of deadly force and 55 percent said that recent events around the country involving police haven't altered their perception of law enforcement in their local area at all.
"Let's face it; cops in Minnesota do a good job," said Dennis Flaherty, executive director of the MPPOA, during a teleconference call. "They buy into community involvement, they buy into community policing. They have for a number of years."
In the wake of widespread news coverage beginning last summer on fatal shootings of several black men by police and ensuing unrest around the country, some of the association's 8,500 members began to ask if Minnesotans were being impacted by national incidents, Flaherty said. The MPPOA setout to survey the general public about their feelings toward police, he said.
The survey, which was conducted by Pennsylvania polling firm Harper Polling, was restricted to registered voters and had a margin of error of +/-4.62 percent. About 83 percent of the respondents were white. Close to a third, lived in Ramsey or Hennepin counties.
Despite the results, Flaherty said that there was still more that law enforcement could do to improve interactions in different communities where trust in police may be lower.
Michelle Gross, president of Communities United Against Police Brutality, wasn't impressed by the association's new report calling it "nonsensical." She said the report participants were generally older and white and had to be registered voters, which also limited the diversity of the pool.
"I think the results truly do not reflect the opinions of people in urban areas particularly young, black people of color," Gross said.
She said the MPPOA should have spent its money on addressing the problems with policing instead of engaging in what she called a public relations campaign.
"It’s not about individual police officers...What do you think about the system of policing? When it comes to the system of policing we have a problem because police are not held accountable," Gross said.
See below for poll results and demographic breakdowns.