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A survey shows cops are more reluctant to use force since the Ferguson shooting

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Law enforcement officers are more reluctant to use force, even when it's appropriate, and less willing to stop and question people, since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Miss., in 2014, according to a study published Wednesday.

The Pew Research Center's data was largely compiled before three officers were shot and killed in Baton Rouge and five were killed in Dallas last summer. Some experts have pointed to a "Ferguson effect" making officers less likely to use force, and this survey suggests it might be a reality.

Officer concerns

  • 86 percent of officers surveyed said high-profile incidents between police and black people have made their job harder.
  • 93 percent said they were more concerned with their safety.
  • 76 percent said interactions between police officers and black people have become more tense.
  • 72 percent said they were less willing to stop and question people who seemed suspicious.

Officers' opinions clashed with the general public. 60 percent of Americans surveyed said high-profile police shootings of black people was a sign of a bigger problem, while 67 percent of officers said they were isolated incidents. 

However, views on assault weapons are similar. 64 percent of Americans have supported a ban, and 67 percent of officers agree. Police and the public generally agree that marijuana laws should be relaxed, with 68 percent of officers and 84 percent of the public thinking so.

Officers said they were likely to be both praised and criticized for their work.

White officers and black officers have very different views about where we are as a country in terms of achieving equal rights.
Kim Parker, Pew Research Center

White and black officers had starkly different views. 92 percent of white officers said the U.S. had made necessary changes to ensure equal rights for black people, while only 29 percent of black officers agreed. 

Some pointed to the Ferguson effect as the cause of increased crime rates.

Some conservative observers said the report confirmed what they already knew.

Are cops less likely to use force since Ferguson?

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