Findings Show Racial and Geographic Differences Play a Role in Perception of Police


Los Angeles-based Interviewing Service of America (ISA) launched an important study to examine the levels of trust and confidence in local police among Cleveland, Ohio residents.  After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2014, officials found that the Cleveland Division of Police practiced excessive force in violation of federal law. As part of a Settlement Agreement between the United States and the City of Cleveland, the Court-appointed Cleveland Police Monitoring Team contracted ISA to conduct a community survey to gauge public perceptions of safety and policing. The survey is one of the first steps toward restoring goodwill between the Cleveland Division of Police and Cleveland’s citizens.

ISA was responsible for gauging and reporting Cleveland residents’ perceptions of policing and safety, specifically regarding use-of-force and police bias. Over a 26-day period, ISA contacted residents by phone (cell phones and landlines) and asked them to share their thoughts. Over 1,400 adults completed the 16-minute survey. To ensure an adequate sample of Latino residents, traditional RDD was augmented with listed sample, which draws listed telephone numbers based on Hispanic surname. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. Overall surveys were completed among 236 Hispanics, 635 African Americans, 418 Caucasians as well as 111 other ethnicities.

The study found that although a majority of Cleveland residents believe the police treat all racial and ethnic groups equally at least some of the time, many believe differential treatment still exists. Black and Latino residents are less likely to report that they are treated with respect when they interact with police and are less satisfied with how police handle those interactions. Findings also suggest that Cleveland residents are skeptical about police conduct and accountability. Only half of Cleveland residents believe police officers follow the law “all of the time” or “most of the time.” When misconduct does occur, 55% of Cleveland residents believe officers are held accountable “only some of the time” or “almost never.” Just under half believe officers treat people with respect or use the appropriate amount of force in most situations.

For inquiries about ISA and its capabilities or a report on the study, contact:  Francine Cafarchia,


About ISA

Since 1982, ISA has been a premier independent research company specializing in CATI, Online, IVR, in-person, focus groups, insight communities and programming and hosting. ISA is a leader in multicultural marketing research and is a three-time recipient of the Asian American Advertising Federation’s “Researcher of the Year” award. The company has completed projects in 67 languages, to date. The ISA family of companies includes Q-insights, the company’s qualitative division, SoapBoxSample, which specializes in mobile and Online research, and the recently-acquired Community Insights Platform icanmakeitbetter. To learn more about ISA, visit