Majority of New Yorkers oppose defunding the police, poll shows


ALBANY — A strong majority of New Yorkers oppose defunding the police, despite calls from activists to gut the NYPD’s vast $6 billion budget in the wake of protests over George Floyd’s death that triggered a wave of police reforms, a new statewide poll shows.

Sixty percent of voters rejected compared to 30 percent who supported a radical entrenchment, according to results from a Siena College poll released Tuesday.

Even in New York City, more voters said they opposed defunding the police — 47 percent — than the 41 percent of respondents who said they supported shrinking the police department.

There was a huge racial divide — 67 percent of whites are against defunding the police. But more than twice as many blacks supported the idea as opposed it– with 54 percent in favor and 27 percent against.

The pollster then asked a question using a less provocative word — replacing “defund” with “reduce.”

When asked if they favored “reduced” funding for police, 57 percent of voters statewide said no, and just 37 percent yes.

But in New York City, 51 percent said they backed the notion of ‘reduced funding,’ while 42 percent were opposed — bucking the trend in the suburbs, which recorded 71 percent compared to 25 percent opposed, and those upstate, who responded against the idea at 64 percent compared to 30 percent supportive.

The sentiment of more liberal and and minority Big Apple residents contrasted with the views in the suburbs and upstate — 71 percent of suburbanites objected to cutting public safety as did 64 percent of upstaters.

Again, the poll exposed a racial chasm — 61 percent of whites opposed reduced funding for cops while 61 percent of black respondents favored a cut.

The poll also follows Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Monday announcement that he plans to either cut or transfer at least $1 billion from the NYPD’s budget.

But individuals — by about a 2-to-1 margin at 60 to 35 percent — said the May killing of George Floyd exposes a broader pattern of excessive police violence against black people.

Ninety-one percent of black voters agreed, followed by 64 percent of Latinos and 53 percent of Whites.

Eighty-one percent said systemic racism is a very, or a somewhat, serious problem.

In a racial divide, 51 percent of Whites said they feel more secure in the presence of police officers, and 46 percent of blacks answered they feel less secure.

“While a clear majority of New Yorkers, 60 percent, say the recent killings of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks are part of a pattern of excessive police violence toward black people, there are widespread racial partisan and geographic differences,” said Siena pollster Steven Greenberg.

“Eighty percent of Democrats say it’s part of a broader pattern, while 57 percent of Republicans and 48 percent of independents, a plurality, say the deaths are tragic isolated instances.”

Individuals polled also said they overwhelmingly support efforts aimed at improving policing in New York.

Eighty percent surveyed said it was a good idea when state lawmakers recently passed police reform bills, including those that criminalized the use of chokeholds by officers, made disciplinary records taken against police public and created a special unit within the state Attorney General’s office to investigate and prosecute cases when a civilian is killed by a police officer.

But, 60 percent also said people of color are not treated fairly by New York’s criminal justice system, compared to 29 percent who disagreed.

This question also drove a stark political divide, as 76 percent of Democrats responded ‘yes’ compared to a minority of GOP voters, at 33 percent.

Another 60 percent compared to 36 percent said they support the Black Lives Matter demonstrations held in countless American cities since George Floyd’s death, because they are mainly peaceful protests with an important message.

That view is held by a majority of New York City denizens at 72 percent, and 55 percent of upstate residents.

Forty-seven percent of suburbanites also said they are on board.

When asked about New York’s current race relations, a majority — 64 percent — answered ‘fair’ or ‘poor,’ with only 31 percent responding ‘excellent’ or ‘good.’

Seventy-three percent of New Yorkers compared to 19 percent said minorities — including African Americans, Hispanics and Asians — experience racial or ethnic discrimination.

Ninety percent of blacks overwhelmingly agreed, followed by 70 percent of Latinos and 69 percent of whites.

The poll was conducted June 23 to 25, surveying 806 registered voters with a 3.9 percent margin of error.


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