A two-thirds majority of Americans say they support giving civilians the power to sue police, a new survey suggests.
The Pew Research Center found overall support for police is steady, but fewer people say officers use appropriate force.
Despite a recent clamour to reduce spending on law enforcement, 73% say it should stay the same or even increase.
The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May has spurred a debate over police reform.
A majority of Americans do not want police spending cut
% of Americans who say spending should:
The analysis, released on Thursday, shows modest declines in police support over the past four years.
A solid majority, 58%, still say police do a good or excellent job of protecting people from crime, down just 4% since 2016.
Declines are more pronounced, however, in other categories: using the right amount of force, treating racial and ethnic groups equally, and holding officers accountable for misconduct.
In each of these areas, approval dropped by at least 10%, with just about one third of the American public giving police forces positive ratings.
American approval of police has declined slightly over past four years
% of those who approve of the police performance in:
And the gaps in police approval were even wider along partisan and racial lines.
Two-thirds of white adults, for example, said the police were doing a good or excellent job at protecting the public, while half of Hispanic adults and just 28% of black adults agreed.
In every aspect of policing, Democrats are less likely than Republicans to view police favourably.
For example, while 89% of Republicans see police as treating racial groups equally, just 10% of Democrats say the same.
Support for police is split along racial lines
% who say police use appropriate force for each situation
An overwhelming majority of Americans – 92% – say police should be trained in nonviolent alternatives to deadly force, in line with ongoing protests against the use of deadly force by police, especially against African Americans.
The survey found that 66% of respondents said civilians should be able to sue police officers for misconduct or excessive force.
Police officers are shielded from lawsuits under the doctrine of “qualified immunity”.
Police unions argue that officers will not be able to carry out their duties effectively if the threat of a lawsuit hangs over every public interaction.
But critics say qualified immunity enables egregious police misconduct.
Last month, US House of Representatives Democrats passed sweeping legislation on police reform that called for an end to qualified immunity. Republicans rejected this and other proposals in the package, leaving the legislation in limbo.