News and Commentary

Poll: 4 Out Of 5 Black Americans Against Cutting Policing Of Their Communities
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 21: Counter terrorism police stand guard outside of St. Patrick's Cathedral as a memorial Mass is held for NYPD Officer Edward Byrne almost 30 years after he was executed by a drug gang on February 21, 2018 in New York City. The murder of the 22 year old officer, by a notorious drug dealer Howard (Pappy) Mason as he guarded the Queens home of a witness, shocked the city for its brutality. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A majority of black Americans prefer police spending the same amount of time or more watching over their communities despite claims from a growing movement that police are a threat to minority communities.

Gallup released a poll on Wednesday that found that 81% of black people want police spending the same amount of time or more in their communities. That number compares to 88% for white Americans, 83% for Hispanic Americans, and 72% for Asian Americans. The whole U.S. population measures at 86%.

The Gallup web survey involved 36,463 U.S. adults and responses were taken between June 23 and July 6. The people polled are roughly representative of the U.S. demographic breakdown of white, black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans. The poll’s margin of error is 1.4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

The survey also noted that black Americans, more than any other racial group, are more likely to see police in their communities. 73% of black respondents said they see police in their communities sometimes or very often, which is eight points higher than the national average of 65%.

“The slightly elevated frequency with which Black Americans see police in their neighborhood has limited impact on their preferences for changing the local police presence,” Gallup notes. “About a third of Black Americans who say they often see the police in their neighborhood think the police should spend less time there (34%); however, the majority of adults in this group think they should spend the same amount of time (56%) or more time (10%).”

The poll also measured the amount of confidence Americans have that an encounter with the police will go well. Black Americans responded 18% very confident, 43% somewhat confident, 27% not too confident, and 12% not confident at all. Those numbers skew more toward the not-confident end than the general public, which measures at 48%, 37%, 11%, and 4%, respectively.

“Black Americans’ preference for the amount of time police spend in their area is modestly related to their expectation about receiving fair treatment,” Gallup notes. “However, 59% of the relatively small group of Black Americans who are ‘not at all confident’ that the police would treat them with courtesy and respect want the police to spend less time in their neighborhood.”

“The majority of all other Black Americans, including those who are ‘not too confident’ about receiving considerate police treatment, want the police to spend the same amount of time, with additional percentages favoring more time,” Gallup adds.

George Floyd, a black man, died in Minneapolis in police custody on May 25. Following his death and the spread of cell phone footage showing a police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck during his arrest, massive protests broke out across the United States over police brutality. Some activists have used the protests to push to abolish police departments, arguing that police systemically mistreat black Americans and that their funding would be better spent on social programs targeting minority and low-income communities.

The “defund the police” movement has caught on among local government officials in cities such as Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and New York City. In Minneapolis, the city council has pledged to abolish the city’s police department. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio have both announced significant cuts into police budgets while speaking favorably about the “defund the police” movement.

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