Fighting Crime More Important Than Police Reform: Survey

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Breonna Taylor event in James Madison Park, Kentucky. Photo by ken Fager via Flickr.

A survey of residents in two cities where police misconduct has been high on the agenda found that support for defunding the police takes second place to fears about rising crime, reports USA Today.

Louisville, KY residents have heavily scrutinized law enforcement since March 2020 following Breonna Taylor’s death, when police officers used a no-knock warrant to break into her apartment while she slept. In stark contrast, Oklahoma City continues to receive wide public approval of the police – despite having the highest mortality rate from police violence in the country. 

But while residents differ on their view regarding what “needs fixing,”  residents in both cities worry more about the rise in violent crime than police misconduct, and would rather that be addressed before the debate about policing in America can continue, USA Today reports.

Based on USA Today/Suffolk University CityView polls, Louisville residents were “more than twice as likely to cite public safety, not police reform, as the biggest problem facing the city.” Similarly, Oklahoma City residents ranked police reform last on a list of  nine community concerns. 

In both cities, only a fraction of the 1000 total individuals surveyed supported the progressive slogan to “defund the police,” USA Today details.   

The questions are complicated, said Angela Novey, 50, a partner in a pharmaceutical research company in Oklahoma City.

USA Today reported that she opposes “the vernacular” of “defund the police” but says it makes sense to cut some police funding in favor of social service programs that might be better suited to handle some situations. 

Latinx Community: ‘Public Safety Above All Else’

One of the key findings of the USA Today and Suffolk University CityView polls was that for the Laino community, concerns about public safety dominate above all else. 

In Louisville, Latinos surveyed had a more positive view of police than their white neighbors did.

To add to that, USA Today details how by a 2-1 vote, members of tha Latino community said police use force only when necessary compared to the votes of white community members. Similarly, in Oklahoma, where nearly one in five residents are Hispanic, they said by 57 percent – 25 percent that in the past, “police officers’ use of force was appropriate.”

“I’m satisfied” with the job the Oklahoma City police do, said Jamie Crowe, 42, who works for the local Chamber of Commerce and was called in the poll. Crowe shared that she has become more concerned about rising incidents of crime and violence. 

“When I go running along the river, I have to be eyes-wide-open,” she said. “I have to pay attention.”

The polls also found that Latinos are “more likely to align with the views of white people than Black people,” a finding that USA Today says could carry political repercussions in upcoming elections and debates about criminal justice reform. 

This summary was prepared by TCR Associate Editor Andrea Cipriano.

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