NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A new study suggests the so-called “Ferguson effect” — officers backing off of policing out of fear that their actions will be questioned after the fact — among police is a reality.

According to the Pew Research Center, three-quarters of officers surveyed say they are hesitant to use force, even when appropriate, and are less willing to stop and question suspicious people.

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The Pew Research Center questioned at least 8,000 officers from departments with at least 100 officers between May 19 and Aug. 14 last year — most of it ahead of the fatal shootings of five officers in Dallas and three officers in Baton Rouge.

Some of the key findings:

— 86 percent of officers said that fatal encounters between blacks and police have made policing more difficult

— 93 percent said they’re more concerned about safety

— 76 percent said they’re more reluctant to use force when appropriate

— 75 percent said interactions between police and blacks have become more tense

— 72 percent said they or their colleagues are more reluctant to stop and question people who seem suspicious

NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill reacted to the findings saying, “I can understand that in light of everything that has transpired in the last couple years.”

But he added, “We have to do our job.”

“New York City police officers are definitely continuing to do their job,” he said.

O’Neill believes neighborhood policing helps.

“We are giving the cops the opportunity to get to know the people in the community, get to the know the people on the blocks,” O’Neill said.

In 2014, a white officer in Ferguson, Missouri shot and killed black teen Michael Brown, setting off a movement drawing greater scrutiny of police use of force, particularly against black citizens. In the years since, other fatal encounters with police in such cities as Baltimore, Baton Rouge, Milwaukee, Chicago and New York have put officers under the microscope, especially as video has captured more of these events.

(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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