WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A recent Gallup poll shows that overall confidence in police across the country has returned to the national average.
The poll, released last week, says that confidence in the police has risen slightly in the past two years, up to 57 percent.
This comes after the confidence in police had tied a record low in June of 2015, at 52 percent, according to the Gallup poll.
Marvin Hunt has lived in Wichita his entire life.
He says over the past few years, his perception of police has changed.
“I am confident in what they do and where they stand today,” said Hunt.
However, the poll shows that some groups, like Hispanics, liberals and people under the age of 35 have become less confident in police.
So KSN asked Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay, how do you instill more trust in those groups of people, here in Wichita?
“One of the big things is letting them know who we are, right, and taking time to get to know them when there isn’t a crisis, building those relationships,” said Chief Ramsay.
Chief Ramsay says his department is working closer with the community than ever before.
One example Chief Ramsay pointed to was the community cookout that took place last year at McAdams Park.
“Some of the things we committed to back than, working with citizens on the gang list and changing some of the policies surrounding those, like notification of juveniles when they are on the list is a recent change as a result of are interaction with the public. We are doing some pretty substantial changes, making some pretty substantial changes to the way we do business, in response to input from the community and working closely with the community,” said Chief Ramsay.
Chief Ramsay says building strong relationships and confidence between the community and police is critical.
“Very rarely do we stumble across a crime in progress, we solve crimes by people providing us information, when people feel comfortable calling us and comfortable giving information to certain officers, we are more successful,” said Chief Ramsay.
While those, like Hunt, say they are confident in the job police do, he offered one thing he thinks would help boost the confidence in them even more.
“I think they should get out and interact with the adults more in the community, it’ll give our kids a better perspective today and not grow up disliking the police,” said Hunt.
Another big part of building confidence in police, Chief Ramsay says, is the necessity of having officers on the street.
Through a staffing study, Ramsay says there is a recommendation to have, at least, 49 extra officers to do the job that he feels they need to do.
Ramsay says this includes responding to calls, but also to focus on community relations.
Going in-depth on that poll, there is a major divide of police confidence between races.
Whites are 61 percent confident, while Hispanics are 45 percent, and African-Americans are 30 percent.
In terms of ideology, 67 percent of conservatives are confident in police, while moderates and liberals are 53 and 39 percent respectively.
Only two other institutions rank higher than police overall.
Seventy percent of Americans are confident in small businesses and 72 percent are confident in the military.