Americans have little confidence or trust in police, survey shows
Police advance through a cloud of tear gas toward demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson (AFP)

A survey laid bare the distrust the public harbors toward police in the United States, the same day a funeral was held for a black teenager shot dead by a white policeman.

The fatal August 9 shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown has reignited fierce debate about relations between police and African Americans, and police tactics.

Critics say police in the U.S. have become increasingly "militarized" and pointed to the police reaction in the nearly two weeks of protests -- some violent -- that roiled Ferguson, with some accusing them of being heavy-handed.

The USA Today/Pew Research Center Poll found that 65 percent of respondents said police did "only a fair" or a poor job in holding police officers accountable when misconduct occurs, compared with 30 percent who say they do an excellent or good job.

There were similar findings when it came to the question of treating racial groups equally and using the right amount of force.

The numbers have changed little since 2009, according to Pew.

There was an even split when asked if police departments nationwide do a good job in protecting people from crime.

The numbers, however, were vastly different when divided between black and white people.

More than nine out of 10 African Americans say the police do an "only fair" or poor job when it comes to equal treatment and appropriate force.

The poll of 1,501 adults, taken Wednesday through Sunday by landline and cellphone, has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.