New York Police Department graduates attend an induction ceremony at Madison Square Garden in New York. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Public opinion surveys on the attitudes of private citizens towards the police are fairly common (See: AEI, Gallup, Pew). But it is comparatively rare that the surveys are reversed, asking police about their opinions on the state of their profession and working environment. If such internal surveys are conducted it seems even rarer for them to be publicly released, especially in what must be trying times for police departments around the country. With that in mind, in steps New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (NYCPBA) with its membership study. And as one might have guessed, the outlook of the officers surveyed is not rosy.
- Ninety-two percent of the respondents say support for the police has decreased during the de Blasio administration, when compared to past administrations.
- Ninety-five percent of the respondents said New York City is heading down the wrong track.
- Eighty-seven percent said New York City has become “less safe” in the past two years.
It would be useful to have comparable points from other cities, but it is not clear they exist. Both Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police and the Los Angeles Police Protective League—the unions for the officers of the respective cities—said they did not have such surveys when reached via telephone.
What little work there has been done on this has been carried out by the National Police Research Platform funded by the National Institute of Justice. But the funding on that project seems to have ended in 2014, and the data it does provide is reported only in aggregate.
At a time when the spotlight is on policing around the country, it would be great to have more comprehensive data, including from the perspective of the officers. But for the time being, that data does not seem to exist. Perhaps the release of the data by the NYCPBA will start a trend.