The American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank based in Washington, D.C., recently released a report outlining its public opinion polling on issues related to race and police — and the results might surprise you, especially given the hype and bias in the media surrounding these issues.
For example, AEI found that only 36% of Americans believe that George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Nearly two-thirds of African-Americans considered Floyd’s death to be murder, compared to 28% of white people. Republicans were also more likely to say that Chauvin did nothing wrong or that Floyd’s death was an accident.
The feelings on the Floyd case lead to larger divisions and misperceptions about Americans’ feelings on race-related issues. AEI’s polling found that only 12% of Americans supported abolishing the police, while 51% supported police reform.
In addition, the percentage of the country who had a favorable view of police increased from June 2020 to February 2021, with more than 70% of respondents saying their opinion of the police was “very favorable” or “favorable.”
While favorability ratings toward police are going up, feelings about Black Lives Matter and other anti-police activists are heading in the other direction. AEI found that 45% of Americans hold favorable views of Black Lives Matter, compared with 55% last summer.
Views of race relations have also fallen steadily since 2014. Prior to that, the majority of Americans said they were satisfied with the state of racial interaction in the country; the number is now less than one-quarter of Americans — showing that Black Lives Matter appears to be making things worse, not better.
These polls clearly show that instead of defunding or abolishing the police, common-sense police reform is the path forward to a country where police are respected and can do their jobs safely and securely. When police have a community’s respect and support, they in turn, work to keep that community safe from dangerous and violent criminals.
Image Credit: Photo by Colin LLoyd on Unsplash
Rather than “defunding” the police, the focus for reform in 2021 and beyond should be improving things like professionalism, readiness, attention to detail, and discipline. Let’s dive into some ways that funding could be re-allocated in a more constructive way to reduce the number of police-involved deaths while still giving police the latitude they need to do their jobs day in and day out.