The recent deaths of Daunte Wright and 13-year-old Adam Toledo, both dying at the hands of police officers have reignited the call for sweeping reform for policing.
With this past summer’s rallying cry being ‘defund the police’ following the very public death of George Floyd, some policymakers have made it their ongoing mission to redirect police budgets in some form. The concept of defunding the police has had its ebbs and flows, with evolving theories of changes in allocation or complete dismantling.
Most Americans (70%) believe that we should not defund the police, with only 30% believing that the government should defund the police
Those that are seeking to reallocate some of the police funds are looking towards different services and programs including housing, mental health programs, food access, and more. Others have a view that the only way to create an entirely different model for the police, is to disband the model entirely, with community-led public safety initiatives.
With sentiment stirring amongst Americans and a renewed sense of blame targeting the actions of police officers, Savanta wanted to ask the public what they believe is the right choice at this time: Should America defund the police?
We discovered in our research, that most Americans (70%) believe that we should not defund the police, with only 30% believing that the government should defund the police. When looking at the data through the lens of race, we found of the white Americans we asked, 76% said no to defunding the police, and 24% said yes. Savanta saw a smaller margin between non-white Americans, with 41% saying yes, and 59% believing that the police should not be defunded. Although non-white Americans appeared to be split more evenly, the overarching sentiment surrounding defunding the police was that it should not be defunded.
Participants were given a chance to share their opinions on the matter and we saw requests for more training, reallocation of budgets, and even some fear around totally defunding the police. One participant said, “We don’t need to defund completely, but they have too many resources and power.” Another one said to “Reallocate the funds to social programs.”
Overall, there appears to be a need to pivot from ‘defund the police’ as the slogan for racial disparity and police brutality. Instead, the reallocation and realignment of government funds towards police training and social programs for the community appear to be the overarching pleas from the American public. The notion to reallocate provides a more productive and active dialogue, rather than a radical movement that not everyone is willing to follow suit.
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