DHM OVBC Panel July Survey Results
July 31, 2020
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year old Black man, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by a police officer and has since spread a call for action across the country to end to racial inequality and police brutality. People across the globe continue to support the Black Lives Matter movement and demand to reform, defund, or abolish the police. Political leaders have looked towards implementing policy changes that meet the demands of the continued protests. Some of these policy changes have directly targeted the decrease of police funding, while others have demanded more specific changes such as the banning of chokeholds by law enforcement officers. In this month’s panel, DHM Research explored the attitudes and beliefs that Oregonians have towards the police, protests, and changes being asked across the country.
These findings come from the July 2020 fielding of our DHM OVBC Panel. The survey was conducted from July 14 to 22, 2020, and surveyed 603 Oregonians. The results were weighted by age, gender, area of the state, political party, and level of education to ensure a representative sample of Oregonians ages 18+. The margin of error for this survey ranges from ±2.4% to ±4.0%.
Oregonians approve of the police in their community more than police in the
55% of Oregonians approve of the way police in their community are doing their job. Approval drops to 40% when asked about the job performance of police in the United States broadly. It’s not uncommon for people to give better ratings for issues closer to home versus elsewhere.
Differences are wide by age and political affiliation. Older Oregonians (45-64, 53%) are more likely to report approval for police in the United States than those under the age of 30 (18%). A large majority of Republicans (80%) approve of the job the United States police are doing, while Democrats (22%) and NAV/Other (35%) are significantly less supportive.
Oregonians who disapprove of the job performance of police across the country attribute it mainly to excessive violence (39%), racism (22%), and abuse of power (20%). Those who approve attribute it to policing being a tough job (35%), there only being a few bad cops (27%), and most police officers being well trained and professional (23%).
Do police treat white people and Black people equally?
Slightly over half of Oregonians (55%) believe that police treat white people better than Black people, while almost a third (30%) hold the view that police treat white people and Black people equally. 1% of Oregonians believe the police treat Black people better.
Most Oregonians (62%) also believe the deaths of Black people during encounters with the police are signs of a broader problem, and again almost a third (29%) believe these are isolated incidents.
Those in the Portland metro (72%) are more likely to report this being signs of a broader problem, while those in Willamette Valley (54%) and the rest of the state (54%) are less convinced.
Democrats (86%), those under the age of 30 (72%), and people over age 65 (71%) are more likely to report that the deaths of Black people during encounters with the police are signs of a broader problem than those ages 45-64 (53%) and Republicans (26%). The shared views from our youngest and oldest Oregonians may be due to the fact that younger people have been taking the lead on these protests against racial inequality and those 65+ see similarities between what they experienced during the Civil Rights movement and now.
Now more than ever, a majority of Oregonians acknowledge the need and urgency for state leaders to look at the intersection of race and policing. These issues about policing, race, and racism are important and they will require leaders to address current policies and public safety measures.
Oregonians are split between police reform and reinventing our approach to
Seven out of ten (70%) Oregonians believe that some sort of change needs to happen with police departments. More than half of those who believe that change is needed (39%) believe that police departments have a problem with race, but it can be fixed by reforming the existing system. Others who believe in change (31%) also believe that reform hasn’t worked in the past and we need to reinvent our approach to public safety.
In early June, a national survey was conducted by YouGov Poll that asked participants which statement came closest to their view on police reform. The results indicate that a majority of the nation believes that we can fix the problem with race, by reforming the existing system (59%). However, panel results indicate that Oregonians are more split in their belief to defund the police (31%) or reform the existing system (39%). Points of view vary by political party, education, and age.
Democrats (49%), college graduates (39%), and Oregonians younger than age 45 (45%) are more likely to believe that we need to defund the police and reinvent the way that we approach public safety.
Oregonians older than age 45 plus (46%) are more likely to believe that reforming our current system will fix the problem we have with race. Half of the Republicans (50%) believe that police departments don’t need to be reformed.
Requiring police intervention, reporting of force, and publicly releasing disciplinary records receive the most support amongst various changes to policing and public safety.
There is overwhelming support for changes to policing and public safety when focusing on police accountability. Some of these changes include requiring police to intervene when other officers are using excessive force (91%), requiring officers to report each time they use force against a civilian (81%), and requiring states to publicly release disciplinary records for law enforcement officers (76%).
The strongest degree of support for these changes are shown by Democrats (89% or more), college graduates (80% or more), and Oregonians between the ages 18–29 (81% or more). While small amounts of opposition are likely from those who identify as Republican (33% or less), have a high school diploma or less (16%), and are older than 65 years of age (21%).
How much funding should we shift to social services?
Oregonians believe that an average of 22%, with a median value of 15%, of the police budget should be allocated towards social services. Democrats and NAV/Other voters are more likely to provide a percentage that is within 10% or more of the average. While Republicans are more likely to provide a percentage that is lower than the average. It is also more likely that Republicans (73%) would oppose allocating any funds to social services.
Alternatives to Justice
Restorative and transformative justice provide two possible alternatives in how we shape the criminal justice system. However, six out of ten Oregonians are not familiar with either concept.
After providing a definition for each approach to justice, a majority (67%) of Oregonians say that they would support using these principles to reshape the criminal justice system. Levels of support vary by political party, and approval of the police in the US.
Democrats (83%) and NAV/Other voters (70%) are more likely to support using these methods while Republicans (40%) are less likely to support using these methods.
Furthermore, those who disapprove of policing in the US (82%) also support these methods at a greater rate than those who approve of policing in the US (48%).
Although the split in partisanship is not surprising, the supporting majority of these changes indicate that a change in policing and public safety is possible.
The research was completed as a community service by DHM Research in partnership with the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center. Both organizations are independent and non-partisan. DHM Research is a Certified B Corporation and OVBC is an Oregon charitable nonprofit corporation.