Most Americans in major cities are more worried about crime than defunding the police – as a new poll shows about 90 percent of Detroit residents actually want more cops.
The poll from USA TODAY and the Detroit Free Press conducted with Suffolk University found that Detroit residents overwhelmingly agree that they would feel safer with more cops on the street.
Detroit was not alone, as a poll from WNBC, Telemundo 47 and Politico conducted with Marist last month shows that 70 percent of black Democrats want more cops patrolling the Big Apple.
In that poll, 21 percent of likely Democratic voters even want the return of the plainclothes anti-crime police in some neighborhoods.
And in Chicago, another poll last month from the MacArthur Foundation found that 79 percent of residents in the Windy City said they feel safer when they see police in their neighborhoods.
Those polls echo dozens of others conducted after the murder of George Floyd last May sparked loud calls to ‘defund the police’ – a barrage of public opinion showing most Americans do not actually want fewer cops.
DETROIT: A protester talks to the Detroit police officers in riot gear in May 2020. A new poll shows about 90 percent of Detroit residents actually want more cops
DETROIT: MC Jordan Weber leads Detroit Will Breathe in chants in favor of Black Lives throughout downtown Detroit in 2020
Another recent USA TODAY poll conducted with Ipsos found that nearly 66 percent of Americans said violent crime has worsened in the last year and 70 percent of said they wanted police budgets to increase – not decrease.
In the Detroit poll, about 75 percent of respondents rejected the progressive slogan ‘defund the police’ and only 33 percent of respondents said Motor City cops use force when it’s unnecessary.
Lifelong Detroit resident Charlita Bell, 41, was among those called in the poll and recounted to USA TODAY how her car was hit by stray bullets during a shopping trip.
‘It’s scary sitting in the house, and when you go outside to the gas station or the store, it’s possible someone will be shooting right next to you,’ Bell said.
Rita Gibbs, 70, told USA TODAY that she is so distressed from violent news that she hates to watch it.
‘It’s always some random shootings. I just can’t stand it,’ she said.
Despite the perceptions of the community, Democrats in Michigan’s House of Representatives announced a slew of bills last month to reform policing in the state, WOOD-TV reported.
The package of 16 bills included measures such as banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants, as well as ending the legal doctrine of ‘qualified immunity’ – which protects officers from lawsuits.
‘There is absolutely nothing political about this bill package,’ Rep. Tenisha Yancey said while announcing the bills.
The poll, conducted by phone from July 13 to July 17, included responses from 500 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
Pollsters gave respondents a list of eight topics from which to weigh as the biggest issue facing Detroit. The results are ranked in order: education, public safety, affordable housing, COVID-19, jobs, taxes, race relations, and police reform.
Of the respondents, 23 percent called education the biggest issue facing Detroit – with public safety coming in second at 19 percent. Police reform ranked last, with just 4% of respondents calling it the biggest issue facing the city.
The results should that 24 percent of black residents ranked crime the biggest concern while just three percent of black residents named police reform the biggest concern.
By contrast, seven percent more white respondents – 10 percent – than black respondents ranked police reform their biggest concert in Detroit.
Only 12 percent of white people ranked crime their biggest concern, half the percentage of black residents.
NEW YORK: Protesters hold a rally to demand that the New York City Council vote against a budget they claim doesn’t make enough cuts to the police department on June 29
ROCHESTER: Demonstrators hold a sign reading ‘Defund the Police’ during a protest over the death of Daniel Prude in 2020
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN: Two demonstrators hold a banner that says, ‘Disarm DPSS Defund AAPD’ with police cars in the background
LOS ANGELES: Black Lives Matter supporters take to the streets outside LAPD headquarters during the first anniversary of George Floyd death in May
WASHINGTON, D.C.: ‘Defund the Police’ is painted on the street in Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House in June 2020
TAMPA, FLORIDA: Dave Gonzalez stands in protest at the ‘Love Walk’ holding a Defund Police sign in June 2020
MINNEAPOLIS: Demonstrators calling to defund the Minneapolis Police Department march on Hennepin Avenue on June 6, 2020
A whopping 78.3 percent of Detroit residents are black, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated in 2019. That makes it the highest proportion of black residents of any big city in the United States.
Of just the black respondents to the poll, black men were twice as likely as black women to have been stopped by cops investigating crimes – and more than twice as likely to say they weren’t happy with how cops acted, USA TODAY reported.
‘You have some good cops and then you have some bad ones,’ said Derrick Wilson, 52, who also goes by the name D.J. Raw.
Most Detroit residents, 58 percent, rated local cops as ‘mediocre or worse’ – but 80 percent also said they would still ask them for help if they needed it, the outlet noted.
But they also rely on the police. Eight in 10 would be likely to ask a police officer for help if they needed it. Even more, 87 percent, would be likely to provide information to the police about a crime they had witnessed.
Kenneth Wolfe, 74-year-old retired landlord, said society ‘is based on law and order.’
‘I feel like they’re one of us; they’re not some invading force,’ Wolfe said.
‘If you don’t have people there to support law and order, then you don’t have a society. They’re the enforcement of law and order.’
Jerome Washington, 53, blamed recent crime surges on unemployment caused by the coronavirus pandemic and poverty.
‘There is no money, and that’s where your crime comes in. Everybody is struggling,’ he said.
Terrell Garner, 41, a contractor who works in construction added that people are now taking their pent-up frustrations out on other now that things are starting to reopen.
‘Now that the world is coming back open, people are getting outside and taking this pent-up frustration on whomever,’ Garner said.
Melanie Taylor, 50, said Detroit has become so dangerous that she won’t even stop to get gas because of the number of shootings.
She told USA TODAY that women and children are increasingly the victims of violence: ‘It seems like there is no code of honor.’
Facing rising fears of summer violence, President Joe Biden recently embarked on a political high-wire act, trying to balance his strong backing for law enforcement with the police reform movement championed by many of his supporters.
Biden met at the White House on July 12 with urban leaders – including Eric Adams, the heavy favorite to be the next mayor of New York City – about increased shootings.
A rise in shootings as New York City began to emerge from the pandemic helped propel a late charge for Adams, a black former police captain who rejects defund-the-police talk.
Adams also says he would bring back a contentious plainclothes anti-crime unit that focused on getting guns off the streets, a unit that was disbanded amid charges that it used excessive force.
He beat more-liberal candidates, but his lifetime of speaking out against police misconduct and his blunt, working-class style make it difficult to pigeonhole him.
Adams spoke frequently on the campaign trail of being beaten by police officers as a teenager and joining the force to reform it from within.
‘My request of the president was number one, to make sure that we use the money that has been allocated to deal with underlying causes,’ said Adams after his meeting with Biden.
‘But he must have a plan that’s prevention and intervention.’
Adams, the current Brooklyn Borough president, said minority communities are ‘waking up to gunshots.’
Biden recently announced new efforts to stem the tide of violence, but the federal government is limited in what it can do to help localities reduce the spike.
His plan focuses on providing funding to cities that need more police, offering community support and cracking down on gun violence and illegal firearms.
‘We know when we utilize trusted community members and encourage more community policing, we can intervene before the violence erupts,’ Biden said.
White House aides believe that Biden, with his long legislative record on crime as a former senator, is not easy to paint as soft on the issue.
Biden has been clear that he is opposed to the ‘defund the police’ movement, which has been effectively used against Democrats to paint them as anti-law enforcement.