Gallup poll: Americans look to societal changes for solutions to deadly police shootings

WASHINGTON, July 28 (UPI) — Americans believe societal changes, including a shift in the black community and policing techniques, can reduce the number of deadly encounters between black men and police, a new Gallup poll found.

The poll found Americans are not focused on a single solution to put a halt to the shootings, instead offering a spectrum of suggestions and ways of addressing the situation. The three most frequent responses were better communications and relations (suggested by 19 percent of those polled), better and additional police training (9 percent) and changes in blacks’ attitudes toward the police (8 percent), the poll found.

The poll found a “clear majority” of Americans remain optimistic that racial tensions can be solved.

“The American public does not coalesce around one specific solution to the problem of deadly encounters between black men and police,” Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Organization, said. “These results underscore the difficulty in coming up with a quick answer to the problem, and emphasize how — at least from the American public’s perspective taken as a whole — the issue needs to be addressed on many different fronts.”

Pollsters asked the question, “Just your opinion, what do you think is the single most important thing that could be done to reduce the number of deadly encounters between black men and police in the U.S.?”

The answers were divided among party and racial lines. Democrats, liberals and nonwhites tended to suggest changes in the way police operate, while Republicans, conservatives and whites focused on changes to the black community.

“A majority of Americans continue to hold out hope that a solution to the broader issue of relations between whites and blacks will eventually be worked out. This optimism indicates the public is apparently open to suggestions and proposed actions that address this complex and highly important issue,” Newport said.

Other suggestions from those polled included gun control (5 percent), less focus on racism (5 percent), finding religion (2 percent) and more diversity in police departments (2 percent).

The poll was completed in the aftermath of the shootings of black men by police in Minnesota and Louisiana and the shootings of police officers by black men in Texas and Louisiana. The poll was conducted from July 13 through July 17, with 1,023 adult respondents, aged 18 and older, living throughout the United States. The margin of sampling error is 4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

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