Most Americans believe that reforms are needed to reduce police brutality against blacks, a new survey finds. Among ideas embraced by many of those polled June 18-22 by Ipsos for Public Agenda and USA TODAY: Forcing officers to reapply for their jobs to help weed out bad cops, limiting policing to focus on serious and violent crimes, and ending police departments’ ability to buy military gear. Those reforms are in addition to widespread support for more training on de-escalation tactics and racial biases, as well as reforms aimed at increasing transparency. The poll surveyed 1,113 adults as a part of the Hidden Common Ground initiative, which focuses on solutions to tough public problems.
Only seven percent want to leave policing the way it is. “Some officers will profile black people. … I know I can get away with more things as a white person than a black person could,” said Yismo Rosenberg of Houston. He believes poor training among officers is probably to blame. The poll found reforms that focused on training and diversity in policing had support from three-quarters or more of respondents: requiring officers to undergo training on de-escalation tactics to avoid the use of force, requiring officers to be trained on how to be less racially biased and recruiting more blacks to become police officers. Nine in 10 respondents supported body cameras for officers, eight in 10 supported requiring police to report incidents involving the use of force publicly within 72 hours, and nearly as many supported a national public database of officers who have used excessive force. Two major reforms were supported by more than half of poll-takers: focusing policing on serious or violent crimes and requiring all officers to reapply for their jobs, hiring back only the most qualified.