Confidence in police in the United States has dropped to the lowest level in more than two decades, with just 52 percent of Americans expressing "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence, according to a Gallup poll released on Friday.
The confidence level in police matched the low seen in 1993, when Gallup first began measuring it as a federal civil rights trial got underway over the 1991 beating of black motorist Rodney King by white Los Angeles police officers.
Since 1993, American confidence in police has ranged from the low of 52 percent to a high of 64 percent in 2004, the Gallup poll found.
The annual poll on confidence in U.S. institutions was taken earlier this month with a random sample of 1,527 adults aged 18 and older living in all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The findings come amid heightened scrutiny of the treatment of African-American men by police in the United States, an issue that flared last year after the killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City and elsewhere.
Police General/ Current Events involving police
U.S. confidence in police at 22-year low: Gallup poll
A Washington police vehicle sits outside the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, Friday, June 19, 2015. An increase in security was present at the church after Wednesday's shooting during a prayer meeting inside the Emanuel AME Church, a historic black church in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
In this image from video, police officer Michael Thomas Slager checks on Walter Scott after he was shot by Slager in North Charleston, S.C., on April 4, 2015. (Feidin Santana via AP Images)
Police tape surrounds the parking lot behind the AME Emanuel Church as FBI forensic experts work the crime scene, Friday, June 19, 2015 in Charleston, S.C. Dylann Storm Roof, 21, is accused of killing nine people during a Wednesday night Bible study at the church. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Police officials stand near the body of a man shot Thursday, June 18, 2015, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Authorities say a man slashed a New York City police officer with a knife before he was shot to death outside a subway station in Coney Island. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Police close off a section of Calhoun Street near the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Corrections officers and a police dog start a search of woods near the Clinton Correctional Facility, Tuesday, June 16, 2015 in Dannemora, N.Y. Search teams are back in the woods of northern New York looking for two convicted murderers who broke out of a maximum-security prison a week and a half ago. The more than 800 law enforcement officers searching for David Sweat and Richard Matt have steadily shifted their focus eastward along Route 374 leading from the village of Dannemora, home to Clinton Correctional Facility. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
The United States and Texas flags fly in front of the Dallas police headquarters Monday June 15, 2015, in Dallas. James Boulware, the man authorities have linked to a weekend shooting outside police headquarters, showed signs of violence and mental instability for years beforehand, according to accounts from authorities and family members. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Police leave the scene of an overnight shooting involving multiple victims at D Avenue sports bar on Flatbush Avenue, Monday, June 15, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
A police officers patrols during the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade as it makes its way up New York's Fifth Avenue, Sunday, June 14, 2015. Thousands of people turned out for the parade led by the island's governor. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
Officers line up during a press conference at the 44th precinct in the Bronx, NY. Wednesday, June 10, 2015. During the conference, de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton discussed the police department's "Summer All Out" program in which additional police officers will join their colleagues on the streets to combat a spike in violent crimes during the warmer months. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
In this June 8, 2015 photo, a McKinney police officer stands near demonstrators during a protest in response to an incident at a community pool involving local police officers in McKinney, Texas. McKinney is an affluent Dallas suburb that is among the nation's fastest-growing cities, with highly regarded public schools and nationally recognized livability rankings. But a video showing a white police officer wrestling a black girl to the ground at a neighborhood pool party has renewed racial tensions in a city that only three years ago settled litigation alleging public housing segregation. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Fargo Police Chief Dave Todd speaks at a news conference on Friday, June 5, 2015, in Fargo, N.D., about an officer involved shooting of a suspect accused in the armed robbery of a downtown motel. The suspect, 30-year-old Eric Webb, is facing two felony charges. Police say a Fargo officer fired twice at Webb, who was injured in the shooting and remains hospitalized. (AP Photo/Dave Kolpack)
A police officer stands near a multi-storied home Tuesday, June 2, 2015, in Everett, Mass., being searched by authorities in connection with a man shot and killed earlier in the day in Boston. The man, under surveillance by terrorism investigators, was killed after he lunged with a knife at a Boston police officer and an FBI agent, Boston police Commissioner William Evans said. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
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"These events likely contributed to the decline in confidence in police, although it is important to note that Americans' trust in police has not been fundamentally shaken - it remains high in an absolute sense, despite being at a historical low," Jeffrey Jones of Gallup said in an accompanying report.
Eighteen percent said they have very little or no confidence in police, the poll found, the highest level Gallup has measured to date.
Gallup said that African-American confidence in police has averaged 30 percent over the last two years, well below the national average of 53 percent, and much lower than any other subgroup.
African-American confidence is down six points from 2012-2013, which is similar to the four-point drop among all Americans, the poll found. One reason African-American confidence has not changed disproportionately over the last two years is that their confidence in police was already low, the report said.
The largest change was seen among Democrats, whose confidence in police dropped 13 percentage points over the last two years compared with 2012-2013, the poll found, noting that blacks are disproportionately likely to identify as Democrats.
Independents' and Republicans' confidence in police did not change over the same period of time, the poll found.
(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)