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While the conduct of law enforcement has become a national political issue in 2016, support for men and women in blue uniforms has reached a historic high. Three in four Americans now say they respect the police.

According to a new Gallup survey, 76 percent of Americans across all major political, racial and age groups report a “great deal of respect for police.”

That’s a significant uptick since last year and stands as the highest level of support for law enforcement of any measurement taken since the 1990s.

In fact, the only time police enjoyed a higher level of respect was in 1967. That year, as support peaked at 77 percent, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered the most comprehensive federal study of rising crime in America up until that date.

A lot has changed since then. High-profile cases of police brutality, many of them caught on tape, have led to historically heightened scrutiny of law enforcement. Cell phone videos of police violence have triggered protests that shut down cities, a Black Lives Matter movement that swept across the country and a national conversation that peaked on the presidential debate stage.

Still, increased scrutiny has corresponded with higher levels of support, even in the last year. In 2015, 69 percent of whites and 53 percent of non-whites said they have respect for their local police according to the Gallup poll. In 2016, those figures jumped 11 and 14 points respectively, to 80 percent among whites and 67 percent among non-whites.

That could be the product of increased empathy for police who have come under increased fire. Gunmen have killed law enforcement during coordinated ambushes in Baton Rouge, La., and Dallas in the last year.

Another possible reason for the increase in respect could be the increased introspection that many police departments have shown. While local departments are taking additional precautions, many are also addressing historical injustices by white officers against minorities.

The president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Terrence Cunningham, recently acknowledged what he described as “darker periods” in policing.

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“There have been times when law enforcement officers because of the laws enacted by federal, state and local governments,” Cunningham said, “have been the face of oppression for too many of our fellow citizens.”

Support for police also remains a bipartisan attitude as the national conversation continues.

Respect for police among self-described Republicans and conservatives continues to rank the highest with 86 and 85 percent respectively, according to the poll. But Democrats and liberals aren’t too far behind at 68 and 71 percent.

Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

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