Abolishing the police — once a fringe issue — has become a mainstream, albeit minority opinion.
After a year of unrest that pitted Portland protesters against cops, around one-quarter of Oregonians now support eliminating their local police department and creating alternative teams of social workers, drug counselors and mental health experts, a new poll says.
A total of 27% of survey respondents strongly or somewhat support that proposal, according to research by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center — but 67% oppose it and 7% are unsure.
"Police funding is about as divisive a topic as can be found among Oregonians," the center said in a briefing. "In the wake of the George Floyd protests of 2020, calls for 'abolition' of police departments increased, especially on social media. Among Oregonians broadly, this call represents a minority view today."
OVBC polled 1,400 adult Oregonians from a curated online research group between June 8 through June 14. The margin of error ranges from 1.6% to 2.6%.
Here are more key findings:
• Support for law enforcement abolition is drastically higher among the young. About 45% percent of those under age 30 support the idea, compared with roughly 13% of those over age 55. Those who identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color offer more support (34%) than whites (26%). Democrats (36%) similarly outpace Republicans (11%) and non-affiliated voters (28%) in liking the idea.
• A slight majority of Oregonians support reducing some police funding — rather than scrapping their local department — in order to pay for more public health, education and social services. About 53% support some police cuts, while 40% oppose it and 8% are unsure. Support is highest among the young (61%) but remains significant (39%) even among those older than 75.
• More than two-thirds (72%) of state residents support banning officers from using chokeholds, 21% are opposed to a ban and 7% remain unsure. College graduates (82%) offer a higher rate of agreement, compared to high school grads (63%).
• About 44% of all polled gave the thumbs up to a ban on police use of tear gas and crowd-control munitions, while 48% gave the thumbs down and 8% were unsure. Women (49%) evinced more support than men (37%).
• Some 63% support banning no-knock warrants, with 30% opposed. Likewise, 63% also support allowing police officers to be sued in civil court over excessive damages, with 29% opposed.
• Requiring police officers to intervene when other cops use excessive force garnered support from 88%, with just 7% not in favor of the proposal. Requiring police departments to release officer disciplinary records is supported by 71% of poll respondents, while 20% said no to that idea.
"Police violence has gone unrecognized in my community," said one poll respondent who identified as white. "White people had their eyes opened by (the Black Lives Matter movement."
Another Democrat-aligned poll respondent disagreed: "'Defund the police' and similar rhetoric has turned many in the community off to the basic message of injustice."
More than a penny for your thoughts
The Oregon Values and Beliefs Centers is committed to the highest level of public opinion research. To obtain that, the non-profit is building the largest online research panel of Oregonians in history to ensure that all voices are represented in discussions of public policy in a valid and statistically reliable way.
Selected panelists earn points for their participation, which can be redeemed for cash or donated to a charity. To learn more click here and join the panel.
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