Hoosier Concerns About Growing Violent Crime on the Increase

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2014 Hoosier Survey Respondents Divided Along Racial Lines about Whether Police Treat Blacks, Whites the Same

Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University, 2013 Hoosier Survey
Seventy-two percent of whites said the races are treated about the same by law enforcement, but an overwhelming 67 percent of blacks disagree.

A belief that violent crime has increased is shared by 59 percent of Indiana adults responding to the 2014 WISH-TV/Ball State University Hoosier Survey, and 69 percent see the issue as a top priority for state government.

With national attention focused on events in Ferguson, Mo. since last August’s fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer, most Hoosiers (67 percent) said they believe police in Indiana treat blacks and whites about the same, and just 20 percent think African-Americans are treated less fairly. But within those numbers hides a significant racial disparity. Seventy-two percent of whites said the races are treated about the same by law enforcement, but an overwhelming 67 percent of blacks disagree.

“The racial divide we now see playing out on the national stage is no less significant within our state’s borders,” commented Joseph Losco, co-Director of the Bowen Center for Public Affairs.

Gary, Ind. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson explained how her city is pro-actively addressing crime: “Crime in any form is something that we do not take lightly in the city of Gary,” she said. “Our police department understands the importance of forging partnerships and employing police tactics that involve more than just an increased amount of officers on the street. We have partnered with Indiana University Northwest to help us gather data and identify high crime areas of the city so more resources can be directed to those locations. The Department of Justice and Indiana State Police are also assisting us with data gathering and strategy development.

“One of the most important components is community policing,” she added, “while building relationships with citizens so that they can trust the police and share information they may have that will lead to more arrests.”

Results from the 2014 WISH-TV/Ball State University Hoosier Survey are now available on the website of the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University (http://www.bowencenterforpublicaffairs.org). The annual survey – now in its seventh year – is designed to provide Indiana residents and policymakers with a measure of public opinion on issues facing State leaders and legislators in the coming year.

The same racial divide appeared when Hoosiers were asked about whether incidents of police misconduct, such as the use of excessive force and covering up police mistakes, have increased. While 60 percent of whites said things have stayed the same in recent years, 53 percent of blacks think police misconduct is on the rise.

Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI) conducted the 2014 Hoosier Survey for The Bowen Center and WISH-TV between Oct. 7 and Oct. 15, 2014. PSRAI surveyed 600 Indiana adults by randomly selected landline and cell phones, with a margin of sampling error of +/- 5.1 percent. The report provides statewide results, including regional breakdowns for some questions.

More information is available at (765) 295-8982.

About The Bowen Center for Public Affairs:
Founded in 2007, The Bowen Center for Public Affairs empowers people who want to participate in their communities. The Bowen Center for Public Affairs offers professional training for government officials, expertise on election administration, facilitation for community-building, and survey research on Hoosier policy issues to inform the public and our elected leaders.

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Sue Richardson

Sandra Cline, Principal