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Support for ‘defund the police’ has dropped nationwide, poll finds

“It is no surprise that the public’s one-time enthusiasm [...] has waned in the last year,” the poll’s director said


A national poll by the University of Massachusetts Amherst found support dropping for a number of police reform policies is dropping.

AP Photo/John Minchillo, File

By Will Katcher

AMHERST, Mass. —A national poll by the University of Massachusetts Amherst found support dropping for the Black Lives Matter movement and a number of police reform policies — from bans on police use of military-grade equipment to bans on officers using chokeholds — which had seen rising popularity in recent years.

But even as support for reforming America’s local and state police departments dropped, opposition to the policies did not necessarily increase. Rather, roughly one-quarter of respondents expressed indifference to the proposed policy changes.

“It is no surprise that the public’s one-time enthusiasm for policies designed to bring about wholesale changes to the nation’s police departments has waned in the past year,” said Tatishe Nteta, the poll’s director and an associate professor of political science at UMass.

“What is somewhat surprising,” he added, “is that this decline is seen across the board, with ardent supporters of police reforms such as progressives, Democrats, African Americans and young Americans also exhibiting a decrease in their support for these changes.”

The poll of 1,000 people nationwide found that “defund the police” policies remain highly unpopular, even more so than in a UMass poll from April of 2021.

Support for transferring funding from state and local police departments to social services dropped from 38% to 31%. But while opposition remained relatively stable at about 45%, UMass’ poll found the number of people with no opinion on the topic jumped from 17% to 23%.

Banning police from using military-grade weapons and equipment had 48% approval last year, but 42% approval this year. Opposition to such a ban fell three points, but indifference on it rose 10 points, the poll said.

Similar patterns existed with other police reform policies, including allowing citizens to sue police officers for excessive use of force (which fell from 59% support to 54%) and support for banning police from using chokeholds (dropped from 62% to 58%).

The Black Lives Matter movement also saw a diminished backing, with support for its goals falling from 48% to 41% and support for its strategies dropping from 40% to 31%.

Some of the steepest drops in support came among African Americans, 56% of whom now support the movement’s goals, down from 67% last April. The poll found a 49% minority of African Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement’s strategies, a drop of 16 points from last year.

“While Black Lives Matter signs still adorn lawns from coast to coast, Americans may be growing tired of the Black Lives Matter movement,” Nteta said.

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