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Cops Rated High - Criminal Justice Rated Low. Why?
By Leonard A. Sipes, Jr.
Published: 10/01/2018

Policeofficer e Introduction

I keep getting comments from cops as to how negative media coverage is hurting the profession. There is hard data as to how we are losing police officers, Crime in America, and that recruitment and retention are major problems. Coverage from multiple newspapers say the same thing, see The Baltimore Sun for the latest example.

Run The Entire Article

A reader suggested that I include the entire Gallup article and provide the full data as to public trust in law enforcement. “No links,” he suggested. Run the entire thing. Fair use policies dictate that I only run a portion of an article, but what you need to know is below.

Eighty-five percent of Americans either have a great deal or some confidence in law enforcement. The media and Congress are at the bottom of the ratings.

Yes, there are concerns throughout the country as to the excessive use of force and those incidents are damaging the credibility of policing. There are some journalists who believe that the problems are indicative of issues throughout law enforcement; they damn the entire profession, Crime in America.

After the riots in Ferguson and Baltimore, and protests elsewhere, there are families telling their police officer loved ones to get out of policing, and to get out now, Crime in America. What some perceive as actions to hold law enforcement accountable, others feel the criticisms are based on pure fiction (i.e., “hands up-don’t shoot”).


I tell officers that policing is one of the highest ranked professions in the country. Not only is law enforcement one of the most trusted professions in the US, but they are also one of the highest rated professions in the world, Crime in America.

Some segments of the media can be damning, and that’s their right. They want to stereotype cops as collectively deficient. They want to indict 800,000 cops based on the actions of a few.

Well, does this philosophy apply to CBS news who recently lost three of three out of four top news people and executives due to allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior, New York Times? Could you imagine the blowback if three major city police chiefs were accused of the same thing?

Media pundits would suggest that if leadership was corrupt, the rest of the workforce would follow. Is the public ready and willing to condemn all of CBS?

We could reexamine the sex abuse claims against the Catholic church and conclude that all priests are corrupt, or we could suggest that it’s a problem for a minority.

Cops are no different than any other profession. It doesn’t matter of we are addressing lawyers, plumbers, teachers or others, there will always be a portion that find themselves in jeopardy. However, I find it interesting that while the CBS executives and priests were charged with actions that took months or years to unfold, cops are routinely charged with malfeasance based on actions that take a second or two to decide.

Regardless as to how hard police agencies try to investigate backgrounds and current character, either some bad characters slip through or the job itself takes a serious toll as to depression, PTSD, suicides and substance abuse, Crime in America. But the reality is that “mistakes” in policing can be episodic; when seconds count, the best among us can falter.

Gallup- Military, Small Business, Police Still Stir Most Confidence

For comparison purposes, see Gallup’s ratings of industries in the US at Gallup.

  • Top three institutions retain long-held positions atop confidence list
  • Average confidence fairly steady since 2007
  • Confidence in religion dips to 38%, another all-time low
Americans’ confidence in an array of U.S. societal institutions is holding steady in 2018, with the military continuing to earn the highest confidence of 15 institutions tested. Small business and the police retain their second and third place rankings, and Congress continues to rank last — consistent with the patterns in recent years.

This year’s update of Gallup’s longstanding Confidence in Institutions question was conducted June 1-13. The question, first asked in 1973 as the Watergate scandal was unfolding, asks Americans whether they have a great deal, quite a lot, some or very little confidence in each institution, and ranks them on the basis of the combined great deal and quite a lot scores.

The top three rated institutions this year are the only ones to engender majority-level public confidence. Seventy-four percent of Americans have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the military, 67% in small business and 54% in the police.

Confidence drops fairly steeply for the next-most highly-rated institutions after the police, all earning just under 40% confidence. This includes the church or organized religion at 38%, the presidency and Supreme Court each at 37%, and the medical system at 36%.

Banks and public schools are rated highly by about three in 10 Americans, while organized labor, big business and newspapers receive high ratings from about a quarter of Americans. The criminal justice system and television news are highly regarded by about two in 10 Americans while Congress earns high trust from 11%.

Bottom Line

At least for the time being, Americans’ average confidence in the nation’s major governmental, economic and societal institutions has leveled off at a historical low point. However, while low relative to the past, confidence is not entirely absent. The military, small business and the police still receive high confidence ratings from a majority of Americans, and most other institutions garner at least “some” trust.

Congress, the media (both television and print), and the criminal justice system — all entities facing significant scrutiny in the news or across social media in recent years — receive much higher negative than positive confidence ratings, serving as the poster institutions for what Americans think is wrong in the country. Low confidence in these may also be contributing to Americans’ continued high dissatisfaction with the direction of the nation in spite of an improving economy.

Source: Gallup

Reprinted with permission from http://www.crimeinamerica.net.

Contact us at crimeinamerica@gmail.com or for media on deadline, use leonardsipes@gmail.com.

Leonard A. Sipes, Jr has thirty-five years of experience supervising public affairs for national and state criminal justice agencies. He is the Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse and the Former Director of Information Management for the National Crime Prevention Council. He has a Post Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and is the author of the book "Success With the Media". He can be reached via email at leonardsipes@gmail.com.


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