Poll: Most young adults say police treat some differently

Author: The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) – Across racial and ethnic groups, most young Americans think police treat some groups of people differently than others, according to a new GenForward poll.

The poll shows that most think African-Americans, Latinos, the poor and immigrants are more likely to be mistreated. It also shows that young blacks are especially likely to say they’ve experienced arrest, harassment or violence by police.

GenForward is a survey of adults age 18 to 30 by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The first-of-its-kind poll pays special attention to the voices of young adults of color, highlighting how race and ethnicity shape the opinions of a new generation.

Things to know from the poll about young Americans’ views of police:


About three-quarters of young Americans say they think the police treat some groups of people differently. That includes 9 in 10 African-Americans, more than 8 in 10 Asian-Americans and Hispanics, and more than 6 in 10 whites.

Among those who do see a disparity, 9 in 10 say African-Americans are especially likely to be mistreated, with little variation along racial and ethnic lines. About three-quarters think Latinos are especially likely to be mistreated, including nearly 9 in 10 Hispanics, almost 8 in 10 whites and Asian-Americans, and about 7 in 10 African-Americans

In addition, two-thirds think poor people and immigrants are more likely to face mistreatment.



The poll shows that young blacks and Hispanics are more likely to say that they or someone they know has been subject to mistreatment.

Twenty-four percent of young African-Americans and 16 percent of Latinos, but just 8 percent of whites and 4 percent of Asian-Americans say they’ve personally experienced harassment or violence by the police. More than half of African-Americans and about a third of Hispanics, but only about a quarter of Asian-Americans or whites, say someone they know has.

Black young people are much more likely to say they’ve been arrested than young whites, 28 percent to 15 percent. Young Hispanics are also more likely than young whites to say they’ve been arrested, at 22 percent.

That’s true even though young black and white Americans are about equally likely to report that they’ve ever been stopped by police. About three-quarters of young whites and African-Americans say they’ve been stopped, as do about 7 in 10 Latinos. Young Asian-Americans are somewhat less likely to say they’ve been stopped, with about 6 in 10 saying so; Only 10 percent say they’ve been arrested.

Young people across racial and ethnic lines are also about equally likely to say they’ve ever called the police for help, with more than half of whites, African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans saying they’ve done so.



Young African-Americans are significantly less likely than members of other racial and ethnic groups to trust the police to usually do the right thing, and to feel like police in their communities are there to protect them.

About three-quarters of young whites and half of young Latinos and Asian-Americans say they always or often trust the police to do what’s right, while only about a quarter of young African-Americans say the same.

Thinking about police in their own neighborhoods, 80 percent of young whites, 74 percent of Asian-Americans and 66 percent of Hispanics say they believe they are there to protect them, while just 48 percent of young blacks say the same. About a quarter of young African-Americans say they think the police are not there to protect them, while a similar proportion say they just don’t know.


The poll of 1,958 adults age 18-30 was conducted Aug. 1-14 using a sample drawn from the probability-based GenForward panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. young adult population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

The survey was paid for by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago, using grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods, and later interviewed online or by phone.

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