According to a new Pew Research Center/USA Today survey, whites are nearly four times as likely than blacks to say police do an excellent or good job at treating racial and ethnic groups equally: 38 percent of whites give police high marks on equality, while just 10 percent of African Americans do the same. The numbers are similar for views on how well police do at holding officers accountable when misconduct occurs, and the gap is even larger on the question of whether police use the right amount of force for each situation.
You don't have to look far to see why a person's race might affect how they view the police—maybe, just maybe, it's because a person's race affects how the police treat them. That lack of trust isn't just about how many times Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown, or what the incident report on that killing looked like. It's not just about how the Ferguson police responded to peaceful protest. You can ask Charles Belk about it. Being handcuffed and detained for hours on suspicion of bank robbery just because you happen to be a tall bald black man might tend to make you question how committed to racial equality your local police department really is. Multiply that story times a million and you start to understand—if you're willing to really think about it—why African Americans have such a negative view of police.