LGBTQ people more likely to be targeted by police, new study says Also less likely to be satisfied with police conduct

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Police — Photo by Renee Raketty
Police — Photo by Renee Raketty

LGBTQ people are more likely to be stopped by police than the general population, according to a new study released by the Williams Institute. LGBTQ people are also more likely to contact police for help, the study says.

In those contacts with police, LGBTQ people tend to be less satisfied with police performance than straight people.

The findings hold across racial and gender demographics, with white and non-white LGBTQ people reporting about the same rates of contact with police and about the same dissatisfaction with police conduct — both higher than for straight people.

The survey compared responses for a national sample of LGBTQ people with the 2015 Bureau of Justice Statistics Police-Public Contact Survey (PPCS) for the general adult population.

"Reviews of LGBTQ people's experiences with police indicate a history of targeted surveillance — much of this documented in public spaces, like parks and sex work domains," the study concludes.

Compared with the general population, almost six times as many LGBTQ people were stopped by the police in a public space (6% vs. 1%), and nearly seven times as many LGBTQ people were stopped by the police for reasons other than involving a vehicle (driving or being a passenger).

Additionally, twice as many LGBTQ people approached or sought help from the police (22% vs. 11%) as compared to those in the general population.

Other findings include more common experiences of police stops while driving among LGBTQ (19%) than non-LGBTQ (8%) people, being a passenger (12% vs. 2%), or being involved in an accident to which the police were called (6% vs. 3%).

Thirteen percent of LGBTQ people said they did not call the police even when they needed help. There were some statistically significant differences between Black and white respondents in the PPCS — with Black respondents being more reluctant to call police — but there were no statistically significant differences between Black and white respondents in the LGBTQ population.

As a result of their experiences with the police, more LGBTQ people said they were unlikely to contact the police again (22%) as compared with the general population (6%).

Fewer female LGBTQ adults report satisfaction with the police (69%) compared to females in the general population (85%).

Fewer female and white LGBTQ people reported agreement that the police behaved properly (73% and 80%, respectively) compared to their peers in the general population (91% and 91%, respectively).

The LGBTQ survey did not include Trans people because the PPCS reports the gender of individuals based on the gender stated on their ID documents — often the gender assigned to them at birth.

The Williams Institute, attached to UCLA Law School, studies public policy as it related to the LGBTQ community.