Americans’ confidence in police dropped after Tyre Nichols beating

Public trust in the police continues to plummet, according to a new poll, after a large group of officers in Memphis were recorded severely beating Tyre Nichols during a traffic stop last month.

When asked this month whether police were adequately trained to avoid excessive uses of force, 60 per cent of respondents to a Washington Post-ABC poll said they were not “very” or “somewhat” confident, while only 39 per cent answered in the affirmative.

A similar dynamic played out on the matter of race, with 57 per cent saying they weren’t confident police treated Black and white people equally.

Both of these markers represent further declines in public trust in police since the 2020 murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers.

The poll found that, according to race and ethnicity, Black people have the lowest trust in police use of force training, hovering at about 20 per cent expressing confidence, while white people have the highest trust of those polled, at an estimated 46 per cent saying they’re confident.

By party, even Republicans’ sky-high roughly 80 per cent share of those confident in police use of force training has declined to 60 per cent in the last three years. Democrats, meanwhile, had the the lowest trust, with only 20 per cent very or somewhat confident in police preparedness to avoid excessive force.

The findings represent a continued decline in public confidence of the police which began even before the Floyd murder, according to the research.

A majority of respondents haven’t been very or somewhat confident that police are trained enough to avoid abuses since the end of 2018.

Beyond appearing to shift public opinion, the killing of Tyre Nichols has inspired a string of investigations.

Five Memphis police officers have been fired and charged with murder in connection to the violent arrest, while still more first responders from the police and fire department are under investigation.

Federal officials are also investigating Nichols’s death.

Civil rights activists have called on state and federal lawmakers to pass new laws regulating police conduct, such an ending so-called “qualified immunity” policies, which can shield officers from civil lawsuits and make it easier to prosecute police for killing people or engaging in misconduct.