Majority of Detroiters say they want police reform, many also want increased police presence


Source: Solutions to Poverty

As of 2016, UM’s Metro Detroit Area Communities Study has been conducting a state-of-the-art panel survey of a representative sample of Detroit households.

Competing concerns about police brutality and high crime rates are reflected in the attitudes of residents of Detroit towards the police, according to a University of Michigan study.

A recent UM survey found that about 6 in 10 adult Detroit residents believe the police murders of blacks and Latinos are part of a larger pattern of police abuse of people of color, and would like to see significant police reforms. At the same time, black, Latino and white residents of Detroit were each about three times more likely to say that a greater police presence in their neighborhood would make them feel safer than they were to say they did. ‘a greater police presence would make them feel less secure.

AAccording to UM’s Detroit Household Survey Metro Detroit Communities Study, a large majority of people in Detroit are in favor of police reforms, including requiring police to be trained in non-violent policing (79%), giving the civilian oversight board the power to investigating and sanctioning officers for misconduct (68%) and using unarmed first responders for mental health calls (66%).

Yet crime also remains a major concern among residents of Detroit. Almost 3 in 10 Detroit residents said they had been the victim of a crime in the past year (28%), and just under half (46%) of those surveyed who have moved in the past 12 months cited crime and security as the reason. Latino residents (40%), residents aged 18-40 (33%) and low-income residents (32%).

Indirect exposure to criminal activity follows an equally uneven pattern. People living outside the downtown area were much more likely to hear gunshots and witness drug-related activity in their neighborhoods, compared to those living in Downtown, Midtown and The Villages .

These concerns about both crime and police brutality are evident in mixed assessments of the police. Almost half (45%) of residents agree that their neighborhood police can be trusted. Likewise, 46% of residents somewhat or strongly agree that the police are doing a good job of protecting their neighborhood, including a majority of white residents (57%), residents 65 and over (59% ) and residents with a university degree (53%). . At the same time, about a quarter of Detroit residents feel that the police are not trustworthy or that they are doing a good job protecting their neighborhood. Latino residents (38%) and residents under 40 (34%) are particularly unlikely to be satisfied with the role of the police in their neighborhood.

“These results highlight the complexity public safety policy in Detroit and cities across the country. The pressure for reform and protection, as well as attitudes towards the police, are much more nuanced and complicated than is often described.Said Jeffrey Morenoff, one of the DMACS faculty research directors, professor of public policy and sociology, and professor-researcher at the Institute for Social Resear at

When it comes to the effect of a greater police presence in their neighborhood, 42% of residents said it would make them feel safer. Ten percent of Detroit residents say more police officers in their neighborhood would make them feel less safe. While white residents and residents with a college education were among the most likely to feel good about the presence of police in their neighborhood, they were also among the most likely to feel less safe with a police presence. increased in their neighborhood.

In addition, more recent residents — those who have lived in the city for less than five years — were more likely to object to an increased police presence than long-term residents. A quarter (24%) of new residents say an increased police presence would make them feel less secure, compared to 8% of long-term residents.

DMACS has surveyed representative samples of Detroiters since 2016. This latest wave of the survey was open from June 2 to July 9, 2021 and captures the views of 1,898 residents. To represent views of the city as a whole, survey responses are weighted to match the demographics of Detroit’s population.

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