New poll shows Californians support police reform


A Black Lives Matter protest in from of the Long Beach City Hall in Downtown LB. Hundreds gathered and listened to guest speakers in support of the protests. Image from June 4, 2020. Photo credit: Daniel Suarez Jr.

Daniel Suarez Jr., News Editor

72% of California voters would support police reform and proposals that could reduce police violence, including a redirecting of police responsibilities for calls pertaining to the homeless, substance abusers and the mentally ill.

Subsequently, 7 in 10 Californians also express some satisfaction of their local police force according to a new poll conducted by the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies.

Participants were asked for their opinion on four proposals listed in the poll: 80% said they would support passing laws that would make it easier to prosecute police officers who use excessive force, 78% support banning police use of chokeholds and strangleholds when detaining suspects, 70% said they would support granting civilians the right to sue police officers for gross misconduct and excessive use of force even if this makes their jobs more difficult and 61% believe in limiting the collective bargaining power of police unions.

“These results reveal widespread support for making substantial changes to police practices. While elected officials have, in the past, resisted calls for police reform, the wide margins now in favor that extend across racial and geographic lines suggest that the politics of this issue have shifted substantially,” said IGS co-director Eric Schickler.

After the police killing of George Floyd, protests have swept the nation with many calling for systematic police reform, defunding police departments and the reallocating of funds to community building programs that assist disenfranchised minority populations.

Protesters have marched all throughout Southern California including mass demonstrations outside LA City Hall, the city’s police station, and even the neighborhood of Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti.

Increasing pressure from the thousands of voices were finally answered when Mayor Garcetti announced he would cut the proposed Police budget by $150 million, a mere fraction of the $3.2 billion allocated for the department, which remains the largest spending category in the city’s budget.

The People’s Budget proposed by advocacy group Black Lives Matter Los Angeles wanted a major cut in policing spending from the original 28.6% to 1.6%. It was not adopted by the LA City Council, however the poll does reveal that many Californians are aware of fundamental flaws in policing, and would support legislation that corrects some of those faults.

Perhaps most surprising was that the study also concluded that a vast majority of voters were overall satisfied with the job done by their local police departments with 36% answering very satisfied and 34% said they were somewhat satisfied.

The poll, which was conducted early July, collected data pertaining to the region and demographics of each participant, including gender, race, age and political party. Certain demographics and regions answered more predictably, such as the 94% of Democrats in favor of the excessive force proposal to the Republicans’ 49%. The study also notes “somewhat fewer voters in Los Angeles County [say they were satisfied] (63%), while more voters in Orange County report being satisfied (79%).”

The Berkeley IGS polled 8,328 voters offered in English and Spanish through stratified random samples to achieve the most diverse and accurate results. The study reports a 95% confidence level with a margin of error of 2 points. Since only voters were contacted, undocumented immigrants are unrepresented.