- Half support major reform; 39%, minor reform
- Community relations, changes to management practices remain top proposals
- Black adults report more positive interactions with police than in 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Two years after George Floyd's murder by Minneapolis police, half of Americans (50%) support "major changes" to policing in the U.S., and another 39% favor "minor changes."
Black Americans (72%) remain more likely than White (44%) and Hispanic adults (54%) to say major changes are needed. About nine in 10 or more in each group say at least minor reforms are needed.
These findings are from an April 24-May 17 Gallup Panel survey, administered by web in English and conducted as part of the Gallup Center on Black Voices.
Broad Support Remains for Reform Proposals That Don't Weaken Police
For the most part, support for various policing reforms was a bit higher in June 2020 than it is now -- though several continue to enjoy broad public support. Just one proposal -- eliminating police unions -- has fallen from receiving majority support in 2020 to having less than half of the public supporting it now.
The public widely supports the following proposals, with two-thirds or more "strongly" or "somewhat" endorsing them:
- requiring officers to have good relations with the community
- changing management practices, so officers with multiple incidents of abuse of power are not allowed to serve
- changing management practices, so officer abuses are punished
- promoting community-based alternatives such as violence intervention
- ending stop-and-frisk
- changing legal practices so that police officers face legal action for abuse of power or unnecessary harm
Public support is mixed on the following proposals, with roughly four in 10 Americans in favor:
- eliminating police unions
- eliminating officer enforcement of nonviolent crimes (i.e., traffic violations, sleeping in public, loitering, substance possession)
- removing military weapons and equipment from police forces
Support remains low for the following proposals, which would involve more dramatic changes to policing:
- reducing the budget of police departments and shifting the money to social programs
- abolishing police departments
- providing only nonlethal weapons to police forces
Black Americans Support Most Reform Proposals
For the three most popular policing reform proposals, Black Americans' level of support in 2022 essentially matches the national average. Further down the list, however, their support exceeds figures for national adults.
By 10 percentage points each, Black adults are more supportive of changing legal practices so that police officers face legal action for abuse of power or unnecessary harm (91% support among Black adults, 81% among U.S. adults) and promoting community-based alternatives such as violence intervention (88% support among Black adults, 78% among U.S. adults). They are 16 points more likely to support ending stop-and-frisk (84% support among Black adults, 68% among U.S. adults).
The following three proposals are supported by most Black adults, but by a minority of U.S. adults:
Eliminating officer enforcement of nonviolent crimes (61% support among Black adults, 45% among U.S. adults)
Removing military weapons and equipment from police forces (55% support among Black adults, 41% among U.S. adults)
Eliminating police unions (52% support among Black adults, 44% among U.S. adults)
Half of Black Americans support reducing the budgets of police departments and shifting the money to social programs, compared with 35% among the national public. This is the only proposal for which Black support went from majority level in 2020 to just half supporting it now.
Providing only nonlethal weapons to police forces and abolishing police forces are unpopular among both the Black and national public, though support remains stronger among Black adults on these proposals.
Black Adults Report Less Frequent, More Positive Interactions With Police
Black Americans are now less likely than they were in June 2020 to report having had an interaction with police in the past 12 months. When Gallup first asked this question in 2020, 42% said they had had an interaction with police in the past year, and now 25% say they have. This is consistent with reports among White and Hispanic adults, both of whom were also less likely to report interactions with police compared with 2020.
Among Black adults who did interact with police over the past year, about three in four say they were treated fairly (77%) and with respect (75%), similar to what Gallup initially found in 2020.
However, they are now a bit more likely to rate the overall experience positively compared with then -- 68% now versus 59% in June 2020.
The percentages of White (81%) and Hispanic adults (69%) who report that their interactions with police were positive have not meaningfully changed since 2020. Black Americans are now about as likely as Hispanic Americans to describe these interactions as positive, but less likely than White adults to rate them this way.
Though 2020 is largely viewed as a tipping point, confidence in police among Black Americans had been waning in the decade leading up to it. Worries about race relations, too, had been building and remain elevated today.
Americans remain almost as firm in their belief that policing reform in the U.S. is needed now as they were in June 2020, after Floyd's murder. Several reform proposals enjoy broad support, such as changes to management practices related to officer abuses.
Black Americans, like other groups, are reporting less frequent interactions with police -- and they are a bit more likely to describe the interactions as positive than they were in 2020. Positive ratings of these interactions still lag behind the national average, however.
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