Four in Five Black Americans Want Same or More Cop Presence in Neighborhood

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August 5, 2020

Over 80 percent of black Americans want the police to spend as much or more time in their neighborhoods as they currently do, new polling from Gallup conducted last month finds.

Asked if they would prefer police spend more, less, or the same amount of time in their neighborhoods, 61 percent of black respondents told Gallup the same, while a further 20 percent said more. Just 19 percent said less. Black respondents were more likely to want more police presence than white, Asian, and all adults overall.

The overwhelming support for current levels of policing even holds among black respondents who say they see the police often or very often. Two in three of those say they would like to see the police the same amount or more; 84 percent of black respondents who see the police "sometimes" responded that way, along with 92 percent of those who see the police rarely or never.

These findings are just the latest survey evidence to run contrary to the intuitions underlying the progressive push to defund police departments. They also confirm the view that some black communities are likely under-policed, suggesting the need for more, rather than fewer, police.

The poll does find that black Americans are less likely to be confident that they would be treated "with courtesy and respect" by police. Although the plurality of black respondents said they were "somewhat confident," they were more likely than white, Hispanic, and Asian respondents to say they were "not too" or "not at all" confident, and less likely to say they were "very" confident.

Notably, the poll finds that how police officers treat people has a strong effect on their support for the police. While simply having an interaction with the police has no effect on black respondents' preference for level of police presence, 45 percent of those who reported not being treated with respect in those interactions wanted a smaller police presence, compared to just 13 percent who felt respected.

The widespread support for larger police presence overall follows more general polling trends apparent since the start of protests surrounding the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd. Large majorities of Americans report trusting their local police departments.

Almost as many consistently oppose the move to "defund" the police, perhaps explaining why many national Democrats, including presidential nominee Joe Biden, have been loath to publicly support the movement. Even in Minneapolis, many black residents oppose efforts to defund—a stark departure from the views of the majority-white city council.

Published under: Police