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Most black Americans don't want less police presence in their communities, poll shows

Surprising?

A Black Lives Matter protester speaks with police officers after a Blue Lives Matter rally in Chicago on July 25. (Photo by Jim Vondruska/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

More than 80% of black Americans either want the same level of police presence in their communities, or an increased police presence, according to a recent Gallup poll.

In fact, 20% of black Americans feel their communities are under-policed and need more police presence, compared to only 17% of white Americans, while 61% of black Americans favor maintaining the current level of police presence.

At the same time, a higher percentage of black Americans reported seeing police often or very often when compared to white, hispanic, or Asian Americans. Most of the black Americans who reported seeing police often in their neighborhoods also said they wanted the same level of police presence, or an increase.

The problem, if conclusions can be drawn from the results of this poll, is not that there is too much police presence and interaction in black communities, but that the interactions that occur are viewed unfavorably by many black Americans. From Gallup:

Although Black Americans seem about as comfortable as Americans overall with the amount of police presence where they live, they differ markedly in their perceptions of how their local police might treat them if they were to interact.

Fewer than one in five Black Americans feel very confident that the police in their area would treat them with courtesy and respect. While similar to the 24% of Asian Americans saying the same, it is markedly lower than the 40% of Hispanic Americans and the 56% of White Americans who feel this way. This could either stem from Black Americans' own negative experiences with the police or from their familiarity with people who have had negative encounters with law enforcement.

The poll results showed that black Americans who have had negative interactions with police in the past, or who have the least amount of confidence that they will be treated fairly and respectfully when they encounter police, are "much more likely" to want less police presence in the community.

The poll's findings are notable during an era in which many protests and political efforts, often undertaken on behalf of black Americans, call for significantly defunding police departments, or in some cases, fully dismantling them.

A proposal to disband the Minneapolis Police Department failed to get on the November ballot, as the commission tasked with reviewing the proposal rejected it due to its vagueness. George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis Police Department officers in May, sparking weeks of anti-police riots and protests around the country.

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