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NSA/TIPP Survey: Americans Reject "Defund The Police" Movement Amidst Growing Negative Impact On Communities

42% say the movement reduced their community safety.

Photo: Taymaz Valley, via Wikimedia Commons

By Jim Skinner, Sheriff, Collin County, TX and Chairman of the National Sheriffs’ Association Government Affairs Committee

A majority of Americans oppose the “Defund the Police” movement, and another 42% say the movement reduced their community safety. Also, most Americans are satisfied with the effectiveness of law enforcement in their communities. Those are the findings of an online TIPP survey of 1,400 Americans nationwide completed in early November for the National Sheriffs Association.

The slogan "defund the police" gained popularity with some politicians during the George Floyd protests in May 2020. The movement aimed to cut funds from policing, leaving our citizens more vulnerable and our communities less safe.

The NSA/TIPP survey asked Americans: Do you support or oppose the movement known as “defund the police?” Six in ten (60%) oppose the movement. An overwhelming 44% “oppose strongly,” and another 16% oppose somewhat. Only about one in four (28%) supports the movement. While 15% said they “support strongly,” another 13% said they “support somewhat.”

The National Sheriffs’ Association has advocated for continued funding for law enforcement to keep our communities safe. We’re aiming on improving training and retention of law enforcement personnel, expanding mental health opportunities for citizens suffering from mental illness and the fighting the surge in fentanyl deaths.

Additionally, we are focused on ensuring the security of the nation's borders remains one of the NSA’s foremost priorities. Border security issues encompass challenges such as drug smuggling, cartel activities, human trafficking, and illegal immigration, contributing to an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. The Association has diligently engaged with members of Congress and the White House to highlight pressing homeland security concerns. The strain on local resources, particularly for border sheriffs and law enforcement nationwide facing insufficient staffing and funding to address the surge in migrant inflows, is a significant concern. This ongoing impact extends to communities nationwide, grappling with heightened levels of violent criminals, illegal drugs, and an overall surge in criminal activity, thereby stretching public safety resources to their limits.

Lastly, we are expanding programs in our jails. For example, in 2021, NSA partnered with Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson to replicate and expand a IGNITE (Inmate Growth Naturally and Intentionally Through Education). This has become a national initiative in 10 states, including Collin County, TX, offering comprehensive education, job training, and post-incarceration work opportunities to inmates in jails throughout the country. In addition, this program is measurably reducing violence in jails. Genesee County has recorded a 97% decrease in inmate-on-inmate assaults, as well as inmate-on-staff assaults.

Region And Area Type

Regional support for the movement varies; nearly three-fourths (72%) of Midwesterners oppose it, while 17% support it. In the Northeast, 61% are against it compared to 24% in support. Meanwhile, in the West, 64% oppose it, while 26% support it, and the South opposes it 52% to 37%.

By area type, urban residents support the movement at 48% to 42%. On the other hand, most suburban residents (71%) and rural residents (67%) oppose the movement.

Party And Ideology

There are stark differences based on party and ideology. Democrats support it 50% to 38%, while liberals support it 50% to 40%. On the other hand, Republicans (76%) and independents (69%) oppose the movement, as do conservatives (67%) and moderates (68%). 

Age, Gender, And Race

The age bracket of 25 to 44 is the only group that supports the movement, with a margin of 49% to 41%. All other age groups oppose it, with the 65+ age group showing the highest opposition at 88%. The 45-64 age group opposes it at 68%, while the 18-24 category opposes it by 46% to 34%.

Meanwhile, men (53% to 39%) and women (68% to 18%) oppose the movement. While both Whites (71% to 18%) and Blacks (49% to 37%) oppose the movement, only Hispanics show support at 60% to 30%.

Negative Impact Community Safety

We asked a follow-up question to assess the impact of the “defund the police” movement on community safety. The survey asked Americans: Overall, what impact has the “defund the police” movement had on your community safety?

Nearly one-half (49%) stated “no noticeable impact.” However, for every one person who mentioned positive impact, about five people said negative impact on the community safety. The responses tallied as follows:

  • 25% significantly reduced community safety
  • 17% slightly reduced community safety
  • 49% no noticeable impact
  • 4% slightly improved community safety
  • 5% significantly improved community safety

Reduced community safety outnumbered improved community safety in all four regions and three area types. Interestingly, 51% of those living in urban communities reported reduced safety compared to 16% reporting improved safety.

All four age groups, genders, and three races reported reduced community safety. Recall that 49% of the 25-44 age group and 60% of Hispanics supported the movement most. Interestingly, they are also most likely to report reduced community safety; 49% of the 25-44 age bracket and 52% of Hispanics reported reduced community safety.

As seen in the chart below, Americans of political and ideological leanings reported reduced community safety.

Satisfaction With Law Enforcement

To gauge Americans’ satisfaction with law enforcement, we asked the survey respondents: How satisfied are you with the effectiveness of law enforcement in reducing crime in your community?

Six in ten (62%) are satisfied, with 27% very satisfied and another 35% somewhat satisfied. On the other hand, 29% are dissatisfied, with 17% not very satisfied and 12% not at all satisfied.

By party, 70% of Democrats, 66% of Republicans, and 48% of independents are satisfied with law enforcement in their community. Ideologically, 71% of conservatives, 54% of moderates, and 65% of liberals expressed satisfaction.

About The Survey

TechnoMetrica conducted the TIPP survey, an online survey for the National Sheriffs' Association, from November 1 to November 3.  The nationwide study had a sample of 1,400 Americans, 18 or older, and TechnoMetrica's network of panel partners provided the study sample. Upon the study completion, TechnoMetrica weighted the study dataset by gender, age, race, education, and geographical region to mirror known benchmarks such as the U.S. Census. The survey’s credibility interval (CI) is +/- 2.7 percentage points, meaning the study is accurate to within ± 2.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Americans been surveyed. Due to smaller sample sizes, subgroups based on gender, age, ethnicity, and region have higher credibility intervals.

About The National Sheriffs' Association

The National Sheriffs' Association is one of the largest non-profit associations of law enforcement professionals in the United States, representing more than 3,000 elected sheriffs across the nation, and with a total membership of approximately 14,000 individuals. NSA is dedicated to raising the level of professionalism among sheriffs, their deputies, and others in the field of law enforcement, public safety, and criminal justice. Throughout its eighty-three-year history, NSA has also served as an information resource for all law enforcement, as well as local, state, and federal government agencies.

Our performance in 2020 for accuracy as rated by Washington Post:

Source: Washington Post