Americans Want Policing Reform But Reject Abolition: Gallup Poll

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A majority of Americans believe the police should undergo major changes, but do not support abolishing police departments nationwide, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

Fifteen percent of Americans support getting rid of the police, the survey found.

Abolishing the police was not a majority opinion held by any group in the poll, regardless of race, age, or political affiliation, according to the Washington Post.

The Gallup survey included more than 36,000 people over the age of 18 who were polled from late June to early July.
Gallup said, “Political party affiliation is also a significant predictor of Americans’ likelihood to say major changes are needed.”
About nine in 10 Democrats (89 percent) respond this way, versus 14 percent of Republicans, with political independents in between at 60 percent.
Most Republicans, at 72 percent, say “minor changes” are needed.

If presented as total elimination of police departments, the survey might have missed support for more nuanced calls to dismantle police, according to Phillip Atiba Goff, a  co-founder of the Center for Policing Equity, in an interview with the Washington Post.

“One notion of abolition is the need for discontinuity from the violent and racist past of law enforcement,” Goff said.

The public more broadly supports other types of changes and showed very strong support for strengthening relationships between officers.

When asked about the need for what the survey called “major changes” in policing, the majority of Americans expressed support.

Some groups endorsed changes at much higher rates than others: 88 percent of Black Americans supported major changes to policing, as did 82 percent of Asian Americans, 63 percent of Hispanic Americans, and more than half — 51 percent — of white Americans.

Forty-seven percent of overall respondents said funds should be shifted from police departments to social services. Black Americans were more likely to support reducing police budgets, at 70 percent, compared with 49 percent of Hispanic and 41 percent of white Americans.

A majority of Americans support Black Lives Matter and a record 69 percent say black people and other minorities are not treated as equal to white people in the criminal justice system, according to another poll conducted by Washington Post-ABC News poll finds.

Confidence in police appears shaken after a wave of national protests. Compared with 2014, fewer Americans say they are confident that police are adequately trained to avoid using excessive force.

A Pew report in June found that more Americans would agree with increasing local police spending than lowering it, with 31 percent in favor of increases and 25 percent supporting cuts. The other 42 percent answered that police spending should remain about where it is.

See also: Record 69 percent See Racial Bias in Justice System

Nancy Bilyeau is deputy editor of The Crime Report.

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