-- A new survey indicates that more than two-thirds of police officers believe that protests that typically follow high-profile police shootings are "motivated to a great extent by anti-police bias" -- one of several findings that appear to highlight deep divisions between law enforcement and the citizens they protect.
The survey conducted by the National Police Research Platform and published by the Pew Research Center, polled nearly 8,000 police officers from 54 police and sheriff’s departments across the United States.
Because of the way the survey was conducted, margins of error varied from question.
Some 68 percent of officers say protests after fatal police shootings of black citizens, like the ones that dominated headlines this July following the fatal police shootings of Philando Castile in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, reflect anti-police bias.
By contrast, the survey indicates that only 10 percent of the officers believe that protesters were motivated "a great deal" by the desire to hold officers accountable for their actions.
Some 86 percent say that high-profile incidents between police and African-Americans have made police work harder, and seven in 10 say they’ve made officers in their department less willing to stop and question “suspicious persons,” the data show.
And, perhaps most notably, while six in 10 Americans see these incidents as signs of broader problems between the police and the black community, according to a separate Pew research study, fewer than a third of police officers agree with their assessment.
The Pew study also highlights apparent racial divisions within the ranks of the police officers themselves.
Only about a quarter of white officers, but close to seven-in-ten of their black colleagues, believe that the protests that followed fatal encounters between police and black citizens were sincere attempts to make police more accountable, the survey said.
Furthermore, an overwhelming majority of white officers (92 percent) but less than a third of their black colleagues say that the country has made the changes needed to assure equal rights for black citizens, according to the data.
The survey also has some potentially bad news for advocates of police reform.
More than half of the officers surveyed said that "in some neighborhoods" being aggressive is a more effective approach than demonstrating courtesy and 44 percent agree or strongly agree that "hard, physical tactics" are needed to deal with certain people.
But there are areas of agreement between the police and the public, according to the survey.
Large majorities of both believe anti-police bias is part of why police protests occur. They also appear to agree on the need for body cameras, as well as tracking gun sales federally, and making private gun shows subject to background checks.