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Poll Finds Officers Pulling Back from Duties, Distrust Management and Political Leaders

November 02, 2015  | 

A random survey of more than 500 law enforcement officers in the United States found that a significant portion have changed the way they police America’s communities as a result of the current national upheaval regarding police practices. Perhaps most troubling, less than one-third believe “my leadership will back a good cop who generally does right” if that cop is the focus of a media controversy.

The survey was conducted for Cop PRotect, a service of Compass Check Consulting Services, which provides public relations services to individual police officers. It was emailed in August to 41,000 subscribers of Police Magazine, seeking their commentary on the current media and political environment surrounding policing. Over 700 subscribers responded, with 518 self-identifying as current local, state or federal law enforcement officers. There are between 500,000 and 750,000 law enforcement officers in the United States, according to various counts.

Asked “If you were caught in a media fire storm and had done nothing or very little wrong, how much would you trust your department and elected officials to defend your name and reputation?” of the 518, 21.5% responded “my department will sell me out in a heart beat, right or wrong.” The most common answer, at 39.9%, was “depends on which way the wind blows.” Just 168 officers, 32.56% of respondents, said their leadership will “back a good cop who generally does right.”

“This is a condemnation of the political leadership of America’s cities and states,” said Robert Parry, president of Cop PRotect. “Police officers know that their management responds to politicians, and this survey is proof cops don’t trust those politicians to support them when they make tough decisions in uncertain situations.”

Parry noted that recent decisions involving police use of force by civilian review boards, such as the Ezell Ford verdict by the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners, are sending a strong signal to cops: “politics is more important than your safety.”

In another question of the survey, officers were asked to rate their level of concern about the current environment. 39% of officers replied that they are “almost always aware of it,” while 42% replied that they have changed the way they work, ranging from 15% who said they have “made decisions on duty to limit exposure” to 13.1% who said they have “reduced enforcement activity as a result.”

“The American media and political apparatus are sending strong signals second guessing police officers, and they are reacting,” said Robert Parry. “While community leaders may say they don’t trust the police, it is clear the police don’t trust community leaders, and they are pulling back enforcement as a result,” added Parry, who noted that crime is rising significantly in many corners of the country, such as Los Angeles where violent crime is up 20% this year, and Chicago where Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently blamed the police department as “becoming fetal” as a cause for a surge in violence.


Cop PRotect is a subscription-based product of Compass Check Consulting Services, an experienced business marketing and public relations firm with unique skills and experience in media relations, public relations, social media and law enforcement. The firm’s founder, Robert Parry, has extensive experience in public relations, media relations and marketing with expertise in controversial sectors including investment banking, oil and gas exploration and policing. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, For more information visit or call 310-651-0231.

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Comments (5)

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5

Gary @ 11/2/2015 4:31 PM

During my impetuous youth I was misguided.
A supervisor told me that if 'something happened' and I was right, he would "back you all the way". My response was that if I was right I didn't need his support, it was when I was wrong that it was most important.
I was, as I said, misguided.
You need the support when you are right, too.
As a supervisor several of my subordinates told me more than once that they picked my unit to work because they had my support. After hearing a few stories, I was disconcerted to find they were right- many officers were not getting the supervisory support that they needed and deserved.
Seems that support is still waning (in places), at best.
Officers, so the best you can. If you are so apprehensive you can't do your JOB, change assignment, department, of find something else to do for a living.
I promised myself that if the job ceased to be fun I would quit it. Forty years later, I retired. I don't remember ever dreading going to work.

Tom Ret @ 11/2/2015 4:58 PM

Sooner or later people will be a lot more concerned about rising crime and
murders than police shooting as police pull back due to a lack of support. A lot of liberals and anti police types don't get but they will if it affects them personally. I suspect that their soon to be complaints that the cops are not doing their job will fall on deaf ears as the cops feel they have reaped what they have sown in their anti police sentiment.

jg206 @ 11/3/2015 7:13 AM

We survived the 70s and this too will pass. When I started back in the 70s part of the training was to have people in your face throwing stuff, calling us pigs, and the other epithets of the time all of it designed to try and make you lose your composure. We went out and did our jobs. Currently we have a fringe crowd, media and liberal government members that want to direct the conversation and point the finger at the police.
We still have to do our jobs. To do less, is to compromise on the oath we took.
I have an advantage a lot of chiefs in larger departments don't have. I know each and everyone of my officers and I can take the time to ride with them and know how they handle situations. That allows me to stand in front of the city council and community members and refute allegations of wrong doing. Yes, even in Mayberry, there are the fringe that watch TV and drink the Kool Aid.
One thing that does hurt us as a profession is officers knowing that an officer in their shift, section, department is violating their oath and the law and not speaking out. We are just a segment of society and bad apples get in our system. We have to weed them out. Unions have to quit protecting bad officers. Policing our own is part of protecting our public.
Law Enforcement is not, nor has it ever been, just a job. It's an avocation that demands more from the people who put the badge on. If our officers don't understand that when they leave the academy, they should by the time they finish FTO. We wear that badge to protect our communities from the evils in society, we're not better than anyone else, we just decided that we will lead, we will stand between our citizens and evil. If we pull back or only do our jobs half way, we let evil win. No the people who complain about us and vilify us will never call the thugs when they are in trouble but we will respond because that is the oath we took.

Robert @ 11/3/2015 8:47 AM

I hope everyone realizes this "news article", is actually an advertisement for the Cop PRotect services/product.
The survey was conducted by that firm, the questions were written by that firm and the results were interpreted by that firm.
The main / leading question is very poorly phrased: "...and had done nothing or very little wrong..."
That is a very misleading questions, because there is a big difference between "Nothing" and "very little".
Did you break the law or department polices or not?
Should we allow people who "are just a little drunk" to drive? What if they are just a little guilty of murder? If your spouse tells you she is just "a little pregnant"..should you only get a "little happy".
The question is meant to continue or increase the "victim culture" allows the respondent to feel victimized because they only "did a little wrong"...and yet my department is not backing me 100%.
The only science here is the science of marketing!!

kevCopAz @ 11/3/2015 8:29 PM

Chief with due respect I can certainly tell that you live and work and run a very small department probably without any of the crime and concerns of a larger more urban department.You are correct in some of what you say, but sadly living in a dream. In my 35 years of Police work I never saw or heard of a bad cop being protected in out large urban department, nor have I seen the Chiefs protect most officers if the political winds blew against them. You live in a dream world, real cops on the street in real crime ridden cities have and will continue to slow down on view enforcement, particularly against minorities until we get the backing of the pols, the chiefs and the public. Until then our oath means as much as the one that the Mayors, Politicians and Chiefs took (including Obama and DOJ) to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, Until they respect their oath don't attack officers who are afraid to act for fear of being scapegoats. Grow up reality is a bitch.

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