Thursday, September 23, 2021

High crime and police brutality give Detroiters conflicting attitudes about law enforcement, survey shows

Posted By on Thu, Sep 23, 2021 at 4:11 PM

click to enlarge A Detroit police squad car. - STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling
  • A Detroit police squad car.

Detroiters have complicated attitudes toward cops because of competing concerns about high crime rates and police brutality, according to a new University of Michigan survey.

Two-thirds of the 1,898 adults surveyed for the Detroit Metro Area Communities Study said they believe police killings “are part of a broader pattern of mistreatment of people of color by the police.”

About half of those surveyed believe that Detroit police are more likely to use force against Black people than white people.

About 79% of Detroiters said they favor police reforms, including requiring training in nonlethal use of force. Another 66% support sending unarmed first responders to calls involving mental health situations.

At the same time, many Detroiters support an increase in police patrols because of escalating violent crime. About 28% of respondents said they were the victims of a crime in the past year.

About 45% of Black residents and 41% of white residents said they would feel safer with an increased police presence. Only 10% said they would feel less safe with more police.

About 27% said police presence wouldn’t change how safe they feel, and 21% said they weren’t sure.

About 45% of residents said they trust police in their neighborhood. One-quarter said they don’t trust police.

“These findings highlight the complexity of public safety policy in Detroit and in cities across the country,” Jeffrey Morenoff, one of the faculty research leads for the survey and professor of public policy and sociology, said in a statement. “The pressure for reform and for protection, as well as attitudes toward the police, are far more nuanced and complicated than is often depicted.”

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