Angelenos are divided in their views of the Los Angeles Police Department, showing a stark generational divide in how they rate the performance of the force and whether officers generally treat people of all races fairly. fair, a new survey shows.
The Suffolk University/Los Angeles Times poll also found that Los Angeles residents are more supportive than those in other large cities of diverting money away from police and using it to fund community-based approaches to public safety.
About a third of Angelenos rated the LAPD’s performance as excellent or good. Most of the respondents, 4 out of 10, rated the department’s work as fair, while just under a quarter rated it as deficient.
A clear generational divide emerged.
Among residents under the age of 35, about 2 in 10 rated the LAPD’s performance as excellent or good, while nearly 4 in 10 rated it as poor.
Among residents 55 and older, just over half rated LAPD performance as excellent or good, and 1 in 10 rated it as poor.
A similar age division came up with the question of whether police generally “treat people of different races fairly, even if there are a few bad apples on the force” or whether they are “racist in the way they treat people.” , even if some of them try to do a good job.”
Overall, more than half of Los Angeles residents said the police are generally fair, while about a third said they are racist.
Angelenos under the age of 35 were more than twice as likely as those over the age of 55 to say the LAPD is racist.
The generational divide on that issue presents a challenge for Mayor Karen Bass and other city leaders seeking to mend police-community relations after a series of high-profile killings and periods of unrest, said David Paleologos, who directs the Center for Political Research at Suffolk University in Boston and oversaw the poll.
“There is a marked difference in the way they view the police compared to people who are middle-aged or older,” he said. “When basically 1 in 2 (younger) people or residents of Los Angeles say the police are racist… that’s a different opinion, and if a mayor or councilor or police chief wants to heal racial divisions, that is the place where I need to do it.”
While many Angelenos believe crime is on the rise, young people are less likely to see the police as the only answer, the survey found.
Overall, nearly 6 in 10 residents said they would prefer to see more LAPD officers in their neighborhoods, versus 1 in 4 who said they wanted to see fewer and 1 in 6 who wanted the number to stay the same.
Los Angeles residents under the age of 35 were almost evenly split between wanting more or fewer officers in their communities.
Opinions about whether the police are racist largely determine how residents rate the department overall. About three-quarters of those who rate the LAPD’s performance as poor said they believe the force is racist.
By contrast, Los Angeles residents’ views on crime had much less of an impact on how they rated LAPD job performance.
Those who felt crime was on the rise gave the Los Angeles Police Department roughly the same approval marks as those who believe crime is on the decline. Those who reported feeling unsafe in their neighborhoods (about 1 in 5 Los Angeles residents) were somewhat more likely to rate the LAPD as doing a bad job.
The proportion of Los Angeles residents who have an unfavorable opinion of the police is higher than in other cities that Suffolk has recently surveyed as part of a series of surveys in major metropolitan areas, a finding that did not surprise Paleologos.
“He’s had some high-profile, high-profile tragedies happen at the hands of LAPD officers, and I think those memories are seared in people’s minds and have been for quite some time,” he said.
That may be part of why Los Angeles residents were more likely to support diverting some police funding to social services (56%) than those in other cities Suffolk has surveyed, including Detroit (49%). , Louisville, Ky. (47%). and Oklahoma City (41%).
“That speaks to the dissatisfaction,” Paleologos said. “There is a lot of work to be done to get Los Angeles on the same level as other cities, with regard to policing and perceptions of the police.”
Louis Rabaso, 29, a high school teacher in the San Fernando Valley, was one of the respondents who agreed to a follow-up interview. His views on law enforcement were mostly negative when he was growing up, he said, but they have softened over time.
His dealings with police have been “very courteous” as an adult, and he has never felt as if he was being targeted or unfairly punished, he said.
However, he acknowledges his privilege as a multi-ethnic person of “white appearance”, suggesting that he may have benefited from more favorable police treatment than members of other minorities.
“I think it really depends on the community that you live in,” he said.
Steven Simons, a freelance photographer who lives in Hollywood, called the LAPD’s job performance fair and said he has had numerous run-ins with police that made him feel officers may be racist.
Simons, 57, of Chinese and Dutch heritage, said in a follow-up interview that he believes police are sometimes asked to do too much and serve as a blanket solution to many social problems.
“I understand, there are many things that turn them on. As I understand it, they are being called for calls that should be handled by social workers instead of them,” Simons said. “And I guess that’s why I gave them a fair[rating]. I feel like the whole culture needs to be changed.”
The survey results come as some categories of violent crime continue to decline in parts of the city.
After an election cycle dominated by concerns about rising crime, Los Angeles ended 2022 with fewer homicides and shootings than in 2021, raising hopes that the surge in violence of the previous two years is subsiding. flattening. However, the death rate is still considerably higher than it was in 2019.
Police officials have attributed the change in part to increased community involvement and closer cooperation with other law enforcement agencies.
Some experts argue that with the US emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, the likely causes of the spikes in violence across the country are diminishing. Many social services are back up and running, and most schools are back to face-to-face classes, leaving fewer teens unsupervised.
But criminologists, police officers and other experts warn that the causes of the 2020 and 2021 spikes may never be fully understood.
Last month, Bass laid out his expectations for the Los Angeles Police Department and Chief Michel Moore in a far-reaching plan that calls for bolstering detective ranks to improve crime-solving rates and streamline the process of recruiting, hiring and officer training.
He also said he wants to review the department’s disciplinary system in an effort to rebuild public trust.
She said her administration would work with the county to “expand the capabilities” of the Mental Assessment Unit, which matches officers with trained county social workers to reduce confrontations with people believed to have mental illness. For now, the units are not available 24 hours a day, in part due to a shortage of mental health professionals, police officials said.
Bass said he wants to make sure violence reduction efforts focus on communities most affected by serious crime. She said a key concern is improving homicide resolution rates, which have fallen from about 77% in 2019 to 66% in 2021. Homicides involving Black and Latino victims were resolved at an even lower rate, she said.
The results of the Suffolk University/LA Times poll mirror those of a 2022 poll conducted by Loyola Marymount University, which found that public trust in the LAPD had improved slightly over the previous two years, although more than half of residents believed that officers sometimes operated in racially biased ways.
That poll found that 71% of Angelenos believed that the police were “serving and protecting my neighborhood,” an increase from 63% in 2020. At the same time, a large majority of those surveyed said it would be better if the police instead alone will not handle calls involving vulnerable people. groups such as the mentally ill and the homeless.
He Suffolk University/Los Angeles Times Poll, conducted March 9-12, interviewed 500 adult residents of the City of Los Angeles, using live phone calls to cell phones and landlines. Quota and demographic information, including region, race, and age, were determined from Census and American Community Survey data. The surveys were administered in English and Spanish. The sampling error margin for the total sample is 4.4 percentage points in either direction. The margins of error increase for smaller subgroups. All surveys may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to, coverage errors and measurement errors.