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ATTITUDES TOWARD

PUBLIC SAFETY, POLICE,


+ SYSTEMIC RACISM.
In the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing, protests erupted at home
and abroad to fight against police violence and in defense of Black
lives. These events seem to have unleashed tectonic cultural shifts
and policy discussions, including an openness toward
understanding systemic racism in our country and debating new
INTRODUCTION. ideas toward public safety.

To explore the current landscape of opinion on these issues,


PerryUndem conducted a national survey of n = 1,115 adults 18
and older from June 15 – 17, 2020. The survey was administered
using YouGov’s online panel.
OUR RESEARCH QUESTIONS:

How safe do people feel now?


To what extent do the police make people feel safe? Does the presence of police make people
feel safer or less safe? Do people feel confident that calling the police to an emergency will be
helpful? What percentage of Black adults have had a police officer point a gun at them? What
percentage of white adults report this experience?

Are Americans open to funding reforms around public safety?


How widespread is awareness of the call for “defunding the police?” Are people learning what
the concept means? How do they feel about different funding and policy solutions?

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To be released soon…

Perceptions of the problem of police violence


Where does the public attribute the source of police violence? A
few “bad apples?” Training? A culture of racism? A culture of
violence? Police wanting “power and control” over people? Toxic
masculinity? White supremacy?

What do people want to learn in this moment?


Perceptions of systemic racism Do they want to learn about the root causes of racism? How laws
Do people see systemic racism in the country? Do they think and policies might exacerbate systemic racism? Do they want to
Black people still suffer the effects of slavery? Do they think white
learn more about how Black people experience racism in their
people still benefit from the effects of our racist roots? Does the everyday life? Do they want to know how talk to friends and family
public think indigenous and Native Americans still suffer from the
members about the topic?
effects of white people taking away their land? Do people think
white people still benefit from taking this land?
“White fragility”
How might white people feel and express discomfort around the
How far-reaching are the effects of George Floyd’s issue?
killings and the protests?
To what degree are people talking about racism? To what degree
are white people wanting to learn more about their own biases as
a direct result of events? Are parents talking to their children?
Have events affected people’s likelihood to vote in the 2020
elections or support a particular candidate?

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KEY FINDINGS ON SAFETY + REFORMS.

45%
of Black men in the survey say a
34%
of adults have felt unsafe because
54%
of adults say police make them feel
police officer has pointed a gun at they were in the presence of a police safe in their community. Forty-five
them or a close loved one. officer - including 59% of Black percent say police make them feel
respondents. unsafe, both safe and unsafe, or
neither.

65% 46% 83%


of respondents say they have now
of adults say that if they or a neighbor of women say that if they were
had an emergency, calling the police sexually assaulted, they aren’t sure heard the phrase “defunding the
would help. One third is unsure or whether police would help their police”- up 34 points from a June 8 -
says the police would hurt the situation – or say police might make 10 YouGov survey. Many have
situation. their situation worse. learned more details about the
concept, and data suggest majorities
are open to funding reform ideas.

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DETAILED FINDINGS ON PERCEPTIONS AND
FEELINGS TOWARD PUBLIC SAFETY.
For you personally, do your local police make
you feel safe or unsafe in your community?

Just over half of


respondents (54%) say their
local police make them feel
safe in their community.

5
4

* Black men sample size: N = 82

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Have you, a close friend, or a family member ever
had a police officer point a gun at them?

Percent “yes to any”

45%
of Black men say a
police officer has
pointed a gun at them
or a close loved one.

* Black men sample size: N = 82

8
One in three adults says
they have felt less safe
because they were in the
presence of a police offer.

* Black men sample size: N = 82


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Let’s say you or a neighbor had an emergency. If you called the
police do you think…

In an emergency, two-
thirds of adults say calling
the police would help the
situation. One-third is
unsure or thinks police
might make things worse.

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* Black men sample size: N = 82
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Let’s say you were sexually assaulted.
If you called the police, do you think:

(Base n = 591 women)

Forty-six percent of women


are not sure whether police
would help their situation –
or perhaps make things
worse – if they were sexually
assaulted.

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Let’s say you were sexually assaulted.
If you called the police, do you think:

(Base n = 591 women)

Fewer than half of Black


women and women of color
respondents think calling the
police would help the situation
if they were sexually assaulted.

A small majority of white women says calling


the police would help.
5

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Let’s say you were assaulted by a partner or
spouse in your home. If you called the police, do
you think:

(Base n = 591 women)

We also find uncertainty


toward the police in helping
women facing violence in their
homes.

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Let’s say you were assaulted by a partner or spouse in
your home. If you called the police, do you think:

(Base n = 591 women)

Black women and women


of color are least certain of
help from police.

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DETAILED FINDINGS ON VIEWS TOWARD
PUBLIC SAFETY REFORMS.
Some people have used the phrase “defund the police.”
Have you heard this phrase, or not?

A large majority is now aware of


the “defund the police” phrase.
Data suggest a jump of 34 points in awareness in
the span of a week. A YouGov survey conducted
June 8 – 10 found that half of adults (49%) had
heard of “defund the police.”

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What is your sense: Does “defund the police” mean”?

Data suggest people are


learning more about the
concepts behind
“defunding the police.”

* Black men sample size: N = 82


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Would you support or oppose this idea:

Police could focus on crimes like burglary and murder, and


other service providers could focus on emergency calls about
addiction, mental illness, and homelessness.

Data suggest that a majority


of adults is open to public
safety reforms.

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Would you support or oppose this idea:

Police could focus on crimes like burglary and murder, and


other service providers could focus on emergency calls about
addiction, mental illness, and homelessness.

Majorities across
demographics are
open to ideas.

* Black men sample size: N = 82


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Right now, taxpayer dollars for police departments go to all kinds of things
police officers are responsible for – from writing up traffic accident reports
for insurance companies to resolving disputes between neighbors to
investigating murders. Would you support or oppose using some of these
taxpayer dollars to:
(Base N = 562 split sample)

Percent “support”
Two-thirds or more
support specific ideas
around who might
respond to different
types of emergencies.

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Support spans demographic groups.
Percent “support”

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More to come.
Email for questions or more data:
team@perryundem.com