Survey: Most Angelenos have favorable view of LAPD, despite lingering concerns around bias

Public trust in the Los Angeles Police Department has improved slightly over the past two years, although more than half of the city’s residents think policing continues to be affected by racial prejudice among officers, according to a poll by Loyola Marymount University is affected.

The poll, which was a follow-up to a similar poll conducted by the university in 2020, underscored that despite the national reckoning on the policing caused by the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in this Year, they continue to generally support the LAPD while making it clear that they don’t see them as a panacea for the city’s problems.

For example, about 3 in 4 respondents said they feel safe when they see LAPD officers in their neighborhood, and 71% of respondents believed the police “serve and protect my neighborhood” — up from 63% a year 2020. At the same time, a large majority of people said it would be better if the police were not called alone to handle calls affecting vulnerable groups such as the mentally ill and the homeless.

The survey was conducted with a random sample of 1,755 adult Los Angeles residents, with a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points in both directions. This sampling error was larger for subgroups, particularly black and Asian residents, since they make up small portions of the urban population.

Despite the general approval ratings, the poll highlighted the persistent belief among Angelenos that the police can be racially biased. Among White, Asian, Hispanic and Black respondents, more than half of the people in each group either slightly or strongly disagreed with the idea that police officers treat all racial and ethnic groups equally. This sentiment was strongest among black respondents, nearly two-thirds of whom believe police treat all groups unequally, according to the poll.

In this regard, 66% of all respondents said they believe the LAPD portrays black people more often than other groups. And about two-thirds of respondents said they believe police sometimes stop without good reason.

The survey, conducted March 24 through June 3 in person, online and by phone in English, Mandarin, Korean and Spanish, is the second in a series of three surveys conducted by Loyola Marymount on behalf of the ministry. Although the surveys are funded by the LAPD, the university conducts them independently without the involvement of LAPD officials.

Fernando Guerra, director of the university’s Center for the Study of Los Angeles, explained the dissonance between the overall positive approval ratings and claims of bias, noting that the poll results offer only a snapshot of people’s perceptions of law enforcement. As such, he said, the survey is one data point among many that should inform police commissioners’ decision-making.

The bias findings echo a 2019 Times investigation that found the LAPD’s elite Metropolitan Division stopped black drivers at a rate more than five times their percentage of the city’s population. A follow-up study found that blacks and Hispanics were searched at vehicle stops far more often than whites, although whites were more likely to be found with illegal items. Black and Hispanic motorists were more likely to be arrested for equipment violations, such as B. a broken taillight or tinted windows, stopped as white drivers. They were also far more likely to be removed from their vehicles, handcuffed and pinned to a curb.

The poll found that 42% of respondents believe they can trust the LAPD to do the right thing “most of the time,” while about a third of residents said it “only sometimes” and 9% said, ” in none of these times.”

In comparison, respondents had more trust in their neighbors than in the police to do the right thing, but less trust in ‘government’ or ‘the media’. The police unions also underperformed the LAPD.

When asked about the use of force by the police, around 55% of respondents said they believed the police used the necessary level of force, while 45% disagreed. More than 4 in 10 said police officers are held accountable if they step out of line.

The results come amid mounting violence in certain parts of the city that has become a key issue in the ongoing mayoral election. Department figures show that while the city has recorded roughly the same number of homicides so far this year as last year, the homicide rate is significantly higher than in 2019. The total number of violent crimes across the city is up compared to last year for rose slightly in large part due to an increase in armed robberies, the department said.

Both mayoral candidates, US Representative Karen Bass and real estate developer Rick Caruso, have called for expansion of the LAPD. Bass has said the department should add about 500 officers to reach its approved size of 9,700 officers, while Caruso wants the LAPD to have a force of 11,000 officers.

These ambitions are somewhat at odds with the poll’s findings, which showed Angelenos is strongly in favor of bringing in trained professionals who are better equipped than the police to handle calls involving the homeless, the mentally ill and those with disabilities struggling with substance abuse are involved.

Around 60% of respondents said they support the idea of ​​having mixed police and non-police teams respond to such calls. In 2020, 53% of respondents preferred public officials to work with mental health professionals. This year, that number rose to 64%.

The survey found similarly growing support for mixed teams in sexual assault, neighborhood disputes and substance abuse cases, but found that fewer people preferred sending such units to crimes such as shootings and burglaries.

However, when asked whether they supported a broader proposal to “defund the police”, a strong majority – almost 69% – said they were either strongly or rather opposed to the idea.

The general optimism recorded in the Loyola survey was higher than the mood recorded in another survey released earlier this year. This poll, conducted by UC Berkeley and The Times, included different questions but showed support for the department was even lower than it was just after the police beat Rodney King in 1991. And yet, while the city’s voters have serious concerns regarding the LAPD, they did, showing little interest in downsizing its size amid concerns about rising crime.

LAPD chief Michel Moore told the police commission that he was encouraged by the Loyola poll results amid a general “loss of trust in institutions.”

“I think that the work of the officials and that this commission and this department had an impact on the general feeling of security,” he said. At the same time, he said, he recognized that some residents have doubts “whether the LAPD can be trusted to act with an impartial and fair approach.”

“There are concerns as to whether we are treating people fairly or not,” he said.

Times Senior Editor David Lauter contributed to this report. Survey: Most Angelenos have favorable view of LAPD, despite lingering concerns around bias

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