Polls conducted among residents of Louisville, Kentucky, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, show a lack of public support for making significant changes to law enforcement despite the nationwide protests over the last year, according to USA Today and Suffolk University.
USA Today notes that Louisville "residents were more than twice as likely to cite public safety, not police reform, as the biggest issue facing the city," and that Oklahoma City residents ranked police reform as the least-concerning issue for the community on a list of nine. The newspaper also notes that very few respondents in either city showed support for the phrase "defund the police."
When asked if the police in their city use force only when necessary:
- 44% in Louisville agree.
- 43% in Louisville disagree.
- 13% responded differently.
- 56% in Oklahoma City agree.
- 32% in Oklahoma City disagree.
- 12% had another response.
Many respondents in Louisville pointed to the shooting of Breonna Taylor by police at her apartment last year as the moment when many of the city’s residents lost or started to lose faith in law enforcement officers.
Forty-five percent of Louisville residents said they lost faith in the police because of Taylor’s killing, while just 7% of Louisville residents gained trust in police because of the shooting. However, most of the city’s residents also expressed disapproval with some of the protests that followed, 53% to 31%.
The surveys also showed a strong divide between Black and white residents of Oklahoma City when it comes to satisfaction with police interactions. Only 17% of white residents of the city said that they’ve had an unsatisfying interaction with Oklahoma City police after being stopped, but 69% of Black residents report having an unsatisfying interaction.
The polls were sponsored by USA Today and the Political Research Center at Suffolk University, and were performed in conjunction with The Oklahoman and the Louisville Courier Journal. Five hundred residents were surveyed in each city from Nov. 10-15, 2021, with a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percentage points.
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