What police reform does America support?

Linley SandersData Journalist
June 01, 2020, 1:45 PM UTC

As protests continue across America over the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer, a Yahoo News/YouGov Poll indicates that there is bipartisan support for police reform.

Seven in 10 Americans (70%) have now seen the video that shows the officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as Floyd says, “I cannot breathe,” and “don’t kill me” as other police officers stand nearby. Two-thirds of Americans (67%) favor a ban on any type of neck restraint, a technique that is permitted by many police forces under certain circumstances. Four in five (80%) Democrats support a ban on neck restraints, as well as most Republicans (58%).

The poll was conducted from May 29 – 30, after the police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck was arrested and charged with third-degree manslaughter.  

There is strong bipartisan support for training police officers how to de-escalate conflicts and avoid using force (94% support among Democrats; 83% support among Republicans). A similar number of Democrats (91%) and Republicans (82%) support outfitting all police officers with body cameras. The body cameras, which are worn on an officer’s uniform, can provide footage of their interactions with citizens. A 2015 Reuters report found that despite heightened interest in body cameras after police misconduct reports, they are often unaffordable for many police departments. 

Four in five (80%) Americans favor implementing an early warning system to identify problematic officers. This is supported by strong majorities of Democrats (89%) and Republicans (72%), as well as white (81%) and black (88%) Americans.  

Despite calls by activists and protesters to defund police departments, most Americans do not support reducing law enforcement budgets. Close to two-thirds (65%) oppose cutting police force funding. Just 16 percent of Democrats and 15 percent of Republicans support that idea. 

Three in five (61%) Americans say the deaths of black Americans during encounters with police in recent years is a sign of a broader problem — not isolated incidents (39%). Two-thirds (67%) of Americans overall say black and white people do not receive equal treatment from the police. Most Americans (62%) — including white Americans (57%) — now say the criminal justice system treats white Americans better than it treats black Americans. More than nine in 10 black Americans (94%) say the US justice system benefits whites.  

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Yahoo News/YouGov Poll  

Methodology: The Yahoo! News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,060 US adult residents interviewed online between May 29-30, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US residents.  

Image: Getty