Most black Americans say they want police to continue their current presence in local areas, even as protests against racism and police brutality sweep the nation, and calls to reform and even defund police departments persist.
Close to two-thirds, 61 percent, of black Americans said they want the police presence in their area to remain the same, while 20 percent said they would like to see police spend more time in their neighborhood, according to a new Gallup poll. Another 19 percent said they would like to see the police presence in their area decrease.
Among the general population, 67 percent of Americans say they want the police presence near them to remain the same, with 71 percent of white Americans saying so. A majority of other minority communities also said they do not want to see fewer police officers patrolling their neighborhoods, with 59 percent of Hispanics preferring the current police presence.
Black Americans said they observe police in their neighborhoods slightly more than other groups, 32 percent saying they see police officers often or very often in their area, above the national average of 24 percent of all Americans who say the same. About 27 percent said they rarely or never see police in their neighborhoods. Only 22 percent of white Americans said they see police often or very often around where they live.
Of black Americans who see police frequently in their areas, only about a third say they think police should curtail their time in the neighborhood, similar to the overall percentage who say so.
Despite most black Americans approving of the level of police presence in their neighborhoods, less than one in five say they are very confident that they would be treated with courtesy and respect during an encounter with police. Meanwhile, over half, 56 percent, of white Americans say they are confident in the same.
The Gallup poll was taken after weeks of unrest in metropolitan areas around the country over police tactics involving interactions with minority communities, particularly black Americans. Protests and riots broke out in May in many cities following the police custody death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck as he pleaded for air.
Calls to defund police have been particularly prevalent in Portland, Ore. and Seattle, Wash., both of which are predominantly white cities.
The survey was conducted online from June 23 to July 6.