Confidence and Caution: Arizonans' Trust in the Police

Reports and Publications
July 2007
William Hart, Richard Toon

National surveys, as well as an Arizona poll commissioned for this report, indicate that most Americans do trust police. But a closer examination of the relationship between police and public finds it to be remarkably complex, resting as it does on a fundamental ambivalence that both sides bring to it. Police, on one hand, are sworn to “serve and protect” the public, but in doing so regularly must discipline and compel some of them. The public, on the other hand, must obey officers and rely on them; but many also acknowledge that they sometimes resent and even fear the police.

This report addresses the issue of trust in police in three ways:

•reviewing national and Arizona-focused research literature
•analyzing the results of 10 focus groups across the state
•providing the findings of a random-sample opinion poll of all Arizona adults