How Hispanic Police Officers View Their Jobs

Gustavo López and Jens Manuel Krogstad, Pew Research, February 15, 2017

Hispanics are the fastest-growing major racial or ethnic group in local police departments in the United States. In 2013, Hispanics made up 12% of full-time sworn officers, up 7 percentage points since the late 1980s, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. And they are still underrepresented relative to their share of the U.S. population, while black officers have gained parity on this measure.

A recent Pew Research Center survey highlights how Hispanic officers see their jobs, their communities and other key issues affecting police today.

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Here are four key findings about how Hispanic police officers see their jobs:

1) Like most police officers, Hispanic officers have mixed feelings about their work. A majority of Hispanic police officers (63%) say their work often or nearly always makes them feel proud, a share similar to that of black (60%) but slightly higher than among white officers (58%).

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2) Views of Latino officers on fatal incidents and the ensuing protests mirror those of white officers. Roughly seven-in-ten Latino and white officers (72% of each group) say recent fatal encounters between blacks and the police are isolated incidents, rather than signs of a broader problem between blacks and the police.

By contrast, a majority of black officers (57%) see these incidents as signs of a larger problem.

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3) Similar shares of Hispanic officers and white officers say high-profile incidents between blacks and police have made policing harder. Seven-in-ten Hispanic officers (72%) say that officers in their departments are now less willing to stop and question people who seem suspicious, a share similar to the 73% of white officers who say this. Roughly two-thirds (64%) of black officers say this.

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4) A majority of Latino (60%) and black (64%) officers say it should be up to federal authorities to identify undocumented immigrants. On the other hand, a majority of white officers (59%) say that when it comes to identifying undocumented immigrants, local police should take an active role.

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