- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Black Lives Matter wants to defund the police, but most Black Americans like their law-enforcement presence the way it is.

A Gallup poll released Wednesday found that 61% of Black adults surveyed want police to spend the same amount of time in their area, and 20% want them to invest more time. Only 19% said they wanted police to spend less time in their community.

“This is similar to the 67% of all U.S. adults preferring the status quo, including 71% of White Americans,” said the poll’s analysis.

At the same time, the survey conducted June 23-July 6 found that Black Americans were less confident than others about being treated by police with “courtesy and respect.”

One-third of Black Americans said they were “not too confident” or “not at all confident” about receiving positive treatment by police, compared with just 9% of White Americans and 15% of American adults overall.

“Black Americans’ preference for the amount of time police spend in their area is modestly related to their expectation about receiving fair treatment,” said the poll. “However, 59% of the relatively small group of Black Americans who are ‘not at all confident’ that the police would treat them with courtesy and respect want the police to spend less time in their neighborhood.”

That confidence level appears unrelated to police encounters. The poll found 79% of Black Americans who have had contact with law enforcement in the last 12 months want police to spend more or the same time in their area, versus 21% of that group who want to see them spend less time.

And while 45% of those Blacks who reported a negative interaction with officers favor less of a police presence, 55% of even that group still wanted police to spend the same or more time in their areas.

“Most Black Americans want the police to spend at least as much time in their area as they currently do, indicating that they value the need for the service that police provide,” said Gallup. “However, that exposure comes with more trepidation for Black than White or Hispanic Americans about what they might experience in a police encounter.”

A Gallup poll released July 22 found 88% of Black Americans agreed that “major changes are needed to make policing better,” more than any other racial group, but just 22% favored abolishing police departments, as the Minneapolis City Council has voted to do.

The poll conducted as part of the newly launched Gallup Center on Black Voices, a 100-year research commitment designed to “studying and highlighting the experiences of more than 40 million Black Americans.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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