How the police are perceived in Greenville is sharply divided along racial lines, a citywide survey on the Greenville Police Department showed.
For example, in response to a question about whether Greenville police officers treat all racial and ethnic groups fairly, 53% of white respondents said yes while 59% of Black respondents said no.
When asked whether law enforcement officers nationally treat racial and ethnic groups fairly, 80% of Black respondents said no while 41% of respondents who identified as white said yes.
More than 3,300 people responded to the online survey over a 10-day period in September. It was administered in the wake of a summer of protests sparked by the May 2020 shooting of George Floyd in Minnesota. Dozens of demonstrations were held in downtown Greenville — most of them peaceful.
The city’s survey included questions about Greenville police practices and the Police Department’s relationship with the community with space at the end for comments. Respondents self-identified their race, ZIP code and age, and responses were anonymous.
More than 10,800 comments were recorded, according to an analysis provided by the city. Of those comments, 43% were negative, 24% were positive and 33% were neutral.
Here are the results to some of the other survey questions:
“Do you feel safe in your neighborhood?”
94% of white respondents said yes.
85% of Black respondents said yes.
“During an arrest, when would it be appropriate for a police officer to use more than their voice to gain control of the person they are arresting?”
More than 90% of white respondents believed use of force was appropriate when the person uses a weapon; 82% believed it was appropriate when the person physically resists; 67% said it was appropriate when the person tries to flee the scene; and 21% when the person verbally resists.
Among Black respondents, 83% believed use of force was appropriate when the person uses a weapon; 74% believed it was appropriate when the person physically resists; 42% believed it was appropriate when the person tries to flee the scene; and just 6% believed it was appropriate when the person verbally resists.
“What might prevent a young person from becoming a police officer?”
For white respondents, the top two deterrents were fear for safety (68%) and salary concerns (66%).
Black respondents believed the top deterrents were a negative personal experience with police (82%) and stigma in the community (65%).
Survey results will help shape recommendations on police policy in a report that will go before City Council, according to the Rev. Stacey Mills, chairman of the Citizens Advisory Panel on Public Safety.
The panel was appointed by Council in July and was charged with examining use of force and K-9 officers, body cameras, and the policies and makeup of the current citizen oversight board, said Beth Brotherton, communications director for the city.