One in three black residents of the Los Angeles area trust their police department to do what is right, according to a Loyola Marymount University poll that has been surveying the region’s inhabitants since the 1992 riots.
In a poll conducted in January, researchers found that just over 60% of Angelenos overall trust their police, a consistent trend since 2017. Trust increases with age and higher income and is highest among Asians, those with an annual household income of at least $150,000, conservatives and whites, the study determined.
“People are very supportive of their police departments in general — more than they are the media and high tech,” said Fernando Guerra, an LMU political science professor who has worked on the survey since its inception.
Every five years since the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles — StudyLA — has conducted a survey about race relations and the likelihood of civil unrest in Los Angeles. Each time the survey was conducted, a smaller number of respondents said new disturbances were likely — until 2017, the most recent survey, when the number predicting unrest shot up.
At that time, nearly 6 out of 10 Angelenos said they believed another riot was likely by 2022, an increase for the first time after two decades of steady decline — and a more than 10-point jump compared with the 2012 survey.
The survey determined that young adults ages 18 to 29, who didn’t experience the 1992 riots, were more likely than older residents to feel another riot was a possibility, with nearly 7 out of 10 saying one was likely. Those who were unemployed or worked part-time were also more pessimistic, as were black and Latino residents, compared with whites and Asians, the poll found.
The January poll was conducted by 20-minute telephone interviews and online responses.
Comparing the unrest in 1992 and the current protests, Guerra said one difference is, “this is truly a multicultural protest. In 1992, it was blacks in black neighborhoods and Latinos in Latino neighborhoods, at the same time.”
Another key difference, he said, is the addition of social media as both an organizing tool and the technology that set off the riots — the filming on mobile phone of the arrest and subsequent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week.
“It shows the role of social media in not only reporting misdeeds, but bringing people together in response,” Guerra said.