Defund what? Most Americans want MORE cops on the street, not less: Poll

Many liberal groups are calling for police departments to be defunded, but a new poll shows it's not what the public want

                            Defund what? Most Americans want MORE cops on the street, not less: Poll
A protester carries a sign that reads "Defund The Police" during the "Say Her Name" march on July 3, 2020, in Richmond, Virginia. (Eze Amos/Getty Images)

Following the Black Lives Matter movement, many activists, liberal groups, and even politicians have now rallied behind a new cry -- defund the police. All over the US, there are numerous efforts to reduce funding for police departments, in favor of mental health, community outreach, and other local programs. It appears though the move isn't as popular as one would expect. According to a poll, 90% of Detriot residents want more cops on the streets, not less.

The defund the police movement has gotten a lot of attention and traction from many activists, and even donors. We recently reported that millionaire George Soros has been actively backing reforms to policing and criminal justice, including a $1 million donation to Color Of Change PAC. On July 2, it was revealed that the group also sponsored Gwen Barry, the Olympic athlete who drew massive controversy after turning her back to the US flag. 


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Despite being a call commonly associated with Democrats, some of them have turned their back on the idea. In December 2020, former President Barack Obama slammed the idea as a "snappy" slogan. That doesn't appear to have daunted the enthusiasm around the idea though, as it still continues to be widely discussed, and pushed for. Now we know that it may not be as welcome an idea as some suggest, largely thanks to the massive crime wave in the US.

Protesters paint a mural that says 'defund the police' during a demonstration outside of San Francisco City Hall on July 20, 2020, in San Francisco, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

'More cops, not less'

In Detroit, the poll was conducted by USA Today and the Detroit Free Press, along with Suffolk University. Respondents overwhelmingly voted in favor of more cops, and it wasn't even close. About 90% of residents responded they wanted more cops, not less. The city wasn't an exception, but the norm. Similar polls were conducted in other cities and showed similar results. In New York, 70% of respondents wanted more cops after a spree of shootings in the city, particularly Times Square. 

In June, a poll by the MacArthur Foundation in Chicago found 79% of residents would feel safer if more cops were on the streets. A nationwide poll by USA Today found that 66% of Americans said violent crime has worsened in the last year and 70 percent of Americans said they wanted police budgets to increase - not decrease. In most cases, the respondents were Democratic, not just Republican, indicating that the issue is of equal concern irrespective of political affiliation. 

The Detroit poll though offers the most striking look at just how significant the issue is. Only 4% of respondents called police reform the biggest issue in Detroit, with it ranking last behind education, public safety, affordable housing, Covid-19, jobs, taxes, and race relations. According to the US Census Bureau, 78.3% of Detroit residents are Black, and historically, Democrats have largely controlled the city. The results bust the myth that calls to defund the police are only from the Democrats.

Police officers stand guard in front of the Homan Square police station while activists hold a rally calling for the defunding of police on July 24, 2020, in Chicago, Illinois ( Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Detroit voters heavily reliant on cops

Despite the stance against the idea, police reform is still a key part of Michigan's agenda. Democrats in Michigan's House of Representatives introduced 16 bills in June to tackle police reforms. They are currently being debated and if passed would ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants, as well as ending the legal doctrine of qualified immunity. It indicates that the party doesn't appear to be listening to its voters.  

Rather than defunding the police, it appears voters want more money to be poured into policing, not just to increase the number of cops, but the quality as well. At least 58% of respondents rated cops as 'mediocre or worse' in the same poll, but 80% indicated they would still turn to them for help if needed. Their fears are well-founded. In 2020, the number of non-fatal shootings and homicides dramatically increased in Detroit, as they have in almost all other major American cities. Currently, cops are already struggling to deal with the massive crime rate, which has only led to more crime. 

Defunding the police would mean fewer cops and less trained cops to deal with violent situations. While the call to fund anti-violence programs is commendable, doing so at the cost of police departments could be a mistake many will come to rue. The issue is expected to be one of the key debates at the 2022 mid-terms and could determine the future of the US House of Representatives, as well as the Senate if Dems keep pushing for police to be defunded, against the wishes of voters.