Amid renewed discussion of police procedures, large bipartisan majorities believe at least some changes are necessary. Partisans do differ on the extent of change needed and the urgency of police reform generally: Democrats say major changes are needed; Republicans say minor ones would suffice. Democrats consider police reform a high priority; Republicans, less so.
As has long been the case, race shapes people’s views of both how their local police make them personally feel and how they perceive the way police treat White people and Black people.
People’s feelings about police in their own community are related to their views on the need for police reform more broadly.
Large majorities of Americans say their local police do a good job. Those who rate the police in their own area positively tend to call for minor reforms overall. The fewer Americans who rate their own police more negatively see a need for major reforms more generally.
Race has long played a role in views of police. Black Americans are more apt to report feeling a mix of both protected and threatened by police in their area, whereas most White Americans feel just protected.
Age matters a lot too, as older people report feeling just protected, and younger people, more of a mix.
When they judge police treatment generally, Black Americans are especially likely to say police in most communities treat White people better than Black people. In turn, about two-thirds of Black Americans want major changes to the way police departments operate in the U.S.
This CBS News/YouGov survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 2,030 U.S. adult residents interviewed between February 1-4, 2023. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey and Current Population Survey, as well as the 2020 presidential vote. The margin of error is ±3.0 points.
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