City polls in Louisville, Kentucky and Oklahoma City found that most Americans continue to support law enforcement following the 2020 nationwide protests against police brutality.
The Suffolk University CityView polls found that although these cities have high rates of police violence, residents continue to show strong public support for the police and view public safety as a more important issue than law enforcement reform.
In Louisville, where the high-profile and controversial killing of Breonna Taylor took place, residents were more than twice as likely to view public safety as the biggest problem facing the city.
Meanwhile, police reform ranked last on a list of nine community concerns in Oklahoma City polls. It appears that neither city paid any heed to the “defund the police” narrative.
65-year-old resident Carol Davenport, a nurse from Oklahoma City, expressed her sympathy and support for law enforcement.
“I just would hate to think what our world would actually be like if we were left to fend for ourselves,” she said. “It’s very easy to stand back with a camera or a phone or whatever it is and judge what someone else is doing when you’re not the one that is accountable.”
The polls, commissioned by USA TODAY and Suffolk University’s Political Research Center, have been implemented in several cities across the nation to explore the attitudes towards policing and the community. Five hundred participants were surveyed by either landline or cell-phone.
The surveys asked questions like: “Do police use force only when necessary?” and “does race affect their actions?”
The polls found that police reform protests had a polarizing effect, strengthening residents’ support of police or reinforcing their negative views towards law enforcement.
Not surprisingly, the surveys showed a sharp divide between the opinions of Whites and Blacks regarding support and trust in law enforcement.
The polls also found that a majority of residents were skeptical about reporting by the media, and believed that stories of police brutality and racism were often exaggerated.
Interestingly, the polls found that Latinos were largely supportive of the police, and highly valued public safety. Hispanics had an even more favorable view of police than White people, with nearly twice as many Hispanics than Whites believing police use force only when necessary.
More than half of Hispanics in Louisville said that police use an appropriate level of force.
Jamie Crowe, 42, who works for the local Chamber of Commerce, was “satisfied” with the Oklahoma police’s job. She has become more concerned about the rise in crime and violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. “When I go running along the river, I have to be eyes-wide-open. I have to pay attention,” she said.
Crowe represents the majority of residents who feel public safety is a pressing issue.
The polls also found that while 20% of Blacks felt that race relations was the biggest problem facing their cities, Whites and Hispanics believed education was the top issue.
In both cities, the notion of defunding the police was widely rejected by all races, a sentiment that has not changed all year.
Indeed, an Ipsos poll taken in March this year found a mere 18% supported the defund the police movement.