Why Have Republicans Lost Faith in the Police?

Connecticut State Police via AP

If the findings of a recent Gallup poll are any indication, fewer conservatives are backing the blue these days. In fact, the survey, which showed Americans’ faith in the country’s major institutions, shows a significant decline in the percentage of Republicans who say they trust the police.

This result seems rather surprising given that conservatives have overwhelmingly supported law enforcement – even to a fault – in days past.The Gallup report noted that faith in U.S. institutions has fallen considerably across the board.

From the report:

Americans are less confident in major U.S. institutions than they were a year ago, with significant declines for 11 of the 16 institutions tested and no improvements for any. The largest declines in confidence are 11 percentage points for the Supreme Court — as reported in late June before the court issued controversial rulings on gun laws and abortion — and 15 points for the presidency, matching the 15-point drop in President Joe Biden’s job approval rating since the last confidence survey in June 2021.

The survey measured trust in institutions like the military, presidency, Congress, public schools, organized religions, and other staples of American society. It showed how the survey’s findings shifted between 2021 and 2022. Trust in law enforcement has declined with the majority of respondents regardless of political affiliation. But the drop was most pronounced among Republicans.

In 2021, 78 percent of conservative participants indicated they trusted the police. This number dropped to 67 percent in 2022, an 11-point decrease. Among Independents, the number fell from 49 percent to 41 percent. With Democrats, it dropped from 30 percent to 28 percent.

This raises an important question: Why are fewer conservatives willing to trust the police?

There are likely several factors that have influenced these results. When I asked this question on Twitter, I received some interesting responses from my followers. Most believe it was the fact that officers were more than willing to enforce onerous COVID restrictions:

Others cited the lack of police response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas:

Others suggested that it was the many stories about corrupt police officers abusing their authority, combined with the fact that they have been unable or unwilling to protect civilians. Indeed, all of these factors are likely contributors to this new trend.

I’ve been paying attention to conservative politics for over a decade, and when I noticed declining trust in the police among conservatives, it was a bit of a shock. Republicans had typically supported police regardless of the myriad of stories featuring the bad apples. Perhaps the libertarian in me did not understand the overwhelming reverence for agents of the state among people who claim to fear the possibility of an abusive government.

But, like others, I saw the tide begin to turn during the COVID-19 pandemic. When folks saw officers abusing people just for wanting to take their children to the park, it seems that many on the right finally began to see that the police aren’t exactly our friends. When they deem it necessary, they will not hesitate to violate our rights instead of upholding the Constitution.

I also noticed a difference in attitude when various videos would go viral on social media showing officers using excessive force on suspects. Sure, there were still plenty who defended the actions no matter how egregious, but more and more, I saw conservatives criticizing them.

The response to the murder of George Floyd also seemed to be pivotal in this trend. Polling shows the majority of Republicans disapproved of former officer Derek Chauvin’s actions on that day. About 55 percent agreed with the guilty verdict. But what is also interesting about these polls is that they did not ask respondents who did not agree with the verdict if they still believed Chauvin deserved some type of punishment. I knew of many who thought he should not have been found guilty on all charges, but should still have faced jail time.

This is a drastic difference from how it would have been 10 years ago, when it seemed that police could do no wrong as far as conservatives were concerned. This is a positive sign. Yes, the majority of police officers are decent folks trying to do their jobs. It does not make sense to demonize all police for the actions of a few.

Still, police are agents of the state. As I always say, there is nothing conservative about blindly trusting government officials who have been granted the authority to violate our rights when they believe it to be appropriate. A healthy distrust is good for those who value liberty.


Trending on RedState Videos