POLITICS
12/04/2014 05:32 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

In The Wake Of Ferguson Decision, Americans Support DOJ Investigation, Body Cameras

A slim majority of Americans approve of a grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, a HuffPost/YouGov poll finds -- but most also support a separate civil rights investigation into the police department and a proposal for officers to wear body cameras.

Fifty-two percent of poll respondents said they approve of the grand jury's decision in Ferguson, while 33 percent disapproved and 15 percent were unsure. Fifty-five percent said they have some or a lot of confidence that the investigation into his death was fairly conducted.

The poll was conducted before a grand jury in New York City decided to not indict NPYD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, another unarmed black man.

However, the poll also found majority support for a Justice Department investigation into whether officers in the Ferguson Police Department routinely used racial profiling or excessive force, with 58 percent calling it a good idea and just 25 percent saying it's a bad idea.

An overwhelming 84 percent of Americans said they support a proposal for police officers to wear body cameras, the poll found. The idea has been widely floated since the shooting, and was publicly backed by Michael Brown's family. Half say they strongly support the proposal.

Unlike opinions on the vast majority of issues related to the Ferguson shooting and protests, the cameras were popular across partisan and racial lines.

Americans in the poll expressed pessimism on race relations, with 40 percent of respondents saying relations have devolved over the past decade. While there was little party divide on the question, black Americans were most pessimistic, with 51 percent saying things have gotten worse.

Polling shows some evidence of improvement in race relations since the Rodney King beating in 1992, when Los Angeles police officers were controversially acquitted after beating King, a black construction worker. Just 30 percent of people in the recent poll said the Michael Brown decision did "major damage" to race relations, down from 62 percent in a Washington Post/ABC survey taken after the King decision, YouGov reported.

Black Americans' views of the police and judicial system also improved slightly in the intervening decades, the poll found, going from almost uniformly negative to merely dismal: Just under a quarter of black Americans in the recent poll said police and the courts treat blacks fairly. That's up from 1992, when 1 percent of black Americans said police treat blacks fairly and 8 percent said courts treat blacks fairly.

Forty percent of all respondents said the government only pays attention to black problems after violent demonstrations or riots, with about an even number disagreeing. And while just 28 percent of Americans said they're angry about the death of Michael Brown, 63 percent said they understand the anger in the black community.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Nov. 25-27 among U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the poll's methodology are available here.

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