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America’s Hidden Common Ground on Race and Police Reform


America’s Hidden Common Ground on Race and Police Reform

This Hidden Common Ground survey explores how Americans are thinking about racism, identifies areas of common ground on police reform and points out areas of disagreement requiring more public conversation. The research found that most Americans want at least some change to policing or law enforcement and that there is significant common ground across the political spectrum and across racial/ethnic groups on several measures to reduce police use of excessive force against Black Americans. The survey, conducted by Ipsos between June 18-22, 2020, asked 1,113 adults about a range of topics related to police reform and race in America.

“The research shows that there is significant common ground, across partisan and racial lines, on a number of important ways of addressing to the problem of police brutality against Black Americans, as well as several areas where there are disagreements that we, as a nation, need to discuss,” said Will Friedman, President of Public Agenda. Read the full report here.

Key findings:

  • More than half of Americans want at least some change to policing or law enforcement, including 55% of Americans who want either major change or to redesign it completely. Just 7% of Americans want it to stay the same. 
  • The vast majority of Black or African Americans (79%) and Hispanic Americans (70%) want major changes or a complete redesign of current policing and law enforcement practices, compared to 47% of white Americans.
  • Transparency appeals to most Americans, including creating a public database of officers who have used excessive force to stop them from being rehired elsewhere and requiring public reporting of all incidents of force within 72 hours.
  • Strong common ground emerges across the political spectrum on community policing. Around nine in ten Democrats (92%) and Republicans (91%) and 84% of Independents would support police officers working closely with communities to understand their concerns and to find ways to protect public safety together. Nearly all white (90%), Black (89%) and Hispanic Americans (84%) would support community policing as well.
  • About a third (35%) of Americans say money should be diverted from police budgets to social services such as social workers, addiction services or job training. But about a third (34%) also say those budgets should be increased to strengthen staffing and to provide more training to handle all the different things the police are asked to do. Another 17% of Americans say budgets should stay the same and 14% do not know.
  • More Black (57%) than white (29%) Americans think money should be diverted from police budgets to social services, with Hispanic Americans fall in between. A 40% plurality of white Americans thinks police budget should be increased.

Read the report

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