America Speaks: Would they support a national police force?

November 06, 2020, 7:00 PM UTC

In the wake of nation-wide protests against police brutality and violence this year, some commentators proposed the creation of a national police force to replace or aid local law enforcement organizations. 

A YouGov survey conducted at the time found little public backing for such a move - just 28% support the idea of a national police force, compared to 55% who are opposed. 

We asked Chat users to dig deeper and tell us why they would support or oppose the creation of a national police force in addition to state and local police. You can share your views on the subject here.  

“Too many layers of law enforcement. Too much confusion. Policing should be local, not impersonal.” 

Many Chat users opposed a national police force on the grounds that it would violate states’ rights.  

  • “It infringes on the rights that are granted to the states and oversteps the federal government’s authority.”  

  • “Too much power from the executive branch of our government. Past history shows that it always leads to autocratic leadership. States rights have been our bastion of democracy.” 

  • “We are seeing federal forces violating constitutional rights and states rights. They have too much power and should not be used on civilians exercising their constitutional rights.” 

Others argued that a national police force would be unnecessary... 

  • “Unnecessary because it would duplicate something we already have.” 

  • “The only use for a national police force is for Tyranny. You don't need state police in a democracy.” 

  • “I think the system we have works now. It may just need some tweaks” 

...impersonal... 

  • “Too many layers of law enforcement. Too much confusion. Policing should be local, not impersonal.” 

  • “Policing is not a one-size-fits-all enterprise. It would also continue to consolidate power in DC, which is far from ideal 

  • “Law enforcement should be community-based, by professionals familiar with the community and its residents.” 

...and a waste of taxpayers’ money.   

  • “A national police force is an unnecessary waste of resources.”  

  • “Waste of money. We should be spending our funding on helping people, not controlling them.” 

  • “State and local police do a fine job already. Waste of money.” 

A number of Chat users also expressed fears that a national police force may turn into a vehicle for authoritarianism and facism in America.  

  • “A national police force is one step closer to a facist state”  

  • “Unconstitutional and can result in federal abuse of power and authority. It's another step towards fascism.” 

  • “National police forces are something authoritarian governments do. We're supposed to be a democracy.” 

Others were more in favour of alternate methods of reform, particularly defunding police departments. 

  • “We need to restructure our existing police force.”.  

  • “There are fundamental problems with local and state police right now. Introducing a national level will just compound the issues.”  

  • “There are too many police as it is. The money for most of the police in the US should be placed into social programs to help eliminate poverty which is the true root of most of the crime prosecuted in the US today.”  

The reforms that most Americans support, however, are outfitting police officers with body cameras and training them to avoid using force.  

“The police need help, they can't handle riots alone.” 

Not everyone was opposed to the concept of a nation wide police force. Those in favour of the idea often argued that a national police department could give local law enforcement any support they might need...  

  • “To step in and get things under control. Help bring peace back to communities.”  

  • “In some cases the local forces are large enough or skilled enough to carry out their duties. Each area of the country or state is different and a national force will give spare help as well as consistency to enforcing law and order.” 

  • “Sometimes local police are overwhelmed.” 

...particularly in situations that get out of control. 

  • “In case states need help during natural disasters. If the state government needs help controlling riots. If the state government turned rough against the federal government.”  

  • “It has become increasingly clear that there are situations that can overwhelm local police forces or times local lawmakers will let crime go and a national auxiliary force is a necessity to keeping law and order.” 

  • “There is so much crime, violence, unrest. Sometimes it may take national support who are well trained in certain situations.” 

While voicing their support for a national police force, a selection of Chat users took the opportunity to criticise local and state level leaders on the grounds that they have not done enough to stem the violence at protests.  

  • “Obviously some leaders can’t or will not do their job of protecting citizens of their state or city, so when it comes to that, there should be back up for the citizens protection.” 

  • “The ONLY reason I support is the fact that the state governor and local mayor won't do anything to bring order to their cities, therefore I support national police.”  

  • “Some states like my state (Washington) the state government doesn’t seem to do anything about the looters and riots. They just let them do what they want.” 

Particularly in relation to the protests in Portland, Oregon this past July.  

  • “Sometimes the states need help as they did in Portland, Oregon, so if we had a national police force they would be able to step in and give support!” 

  • “In instances like Portland, OR, where liberal leaders allow rioters to destroy public, city and federal properties, it would be most beneficial to have federal police on-site at all times to defend citizens and properties.” 

  • “To stop the carnage like in Portland where the mayor and governor allow it to go on…” 

------------------------ 

Every day, members of YouGov Chat are asked to share their opinion on a topic in the news. We allow anyone to take part in these chats, and do not display or weight results in real-time. Instead, to make the experience informative but still interactive, the chat displays weighted data from YouGov Direct to show them how the rest of the country voted. This enables us to pose the question to all, while retaining data accuracy and validity when communicating results.     
 

YouGov Chat seeks to add to the ‘what?’ (the quantitative poll result) by finding the ‘why?” (qualitative open ends) in a member’s own words. Learn more about YouGov Chat here.       


Image: YouGov