Desire to Defund Police but Want More Officers, Oakland Poll Discovers People’s Discomfort

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A recent voting poll spearheaded by the Chamber of Commerce found that most Oakland voters still demand the retainment or increased police officers across the state. According to the polling results, 70% of the city’s African American voters support this request. The previously mentioned details show the people’s hope for more security precautions despite apparent pressure for defunding police and loss of reliance on the city’s law enforcement.

According to the poll outcomes, 33% of African Americans expressed their decreased dependence on the police ever since the previous year. However, 54% of the assenters claimed that their perceptions of the police force remain unchanged, while 11% declared that their confidence in law enforcement has heightened. 

In contrast, 45% of Latino voters expressed their wish for the police to remain the same or increase, while 48% admitted their distrust towards the police force. The remaining 38% demanded the reduction of police officers in the law enforcement industry. East Oakland Councilman Loren Taylor confessed that she was not surprised by the results. She is also the city’s Reimagining Public Safety task force co-chairwoman.

“People don’t feel safe,” Taylor said. “And right now, if there is trouble – the only options are 911 or the police,” she added. 

The supervision of the poll commenced last October 18-21 of this year. The FM3 research firm spearheaded the voting process and cultivated a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points. The Chamber of Commerce’s yearly Pulse of the City poll of voters included the previously mentioned questions to the polling survey. A few of the findings include 56% of surveyors supporting the police’s defunding, and 38% of citywide voters declared their decreased trust in the police force. Furthermore, the poll results indicate at least four out of five voters bracing shifting priorities such as mental health response, homeless response, and traffic enforcement.

Despite the previously mentioned results, the poll also found 58% of citywide voters that support the increasing number of police officers, contrasting the remaining 27% pressure for the reduction of police numbers.

Traditionally African American community, West Oakland, revealed to have the most police trust gap, as 51% of its voters attested that their dependence on the police significantly decreased. The poll came out after a year of questionable police shootouts of African Americans in cities across the state. Due to those events, local and national calls went through hotlines demanding redefining the police’s objectives or defunding of law enforcement budget.

An alarming rise of violent crimes and police shootings occur in many of Oakland’s cities. However, Oakland partially suffers from the problem due to homicides reaching the 100 threshold in the most recent week. Oakland had a total of 75 homicides throughout 2019.

Due to the poll results, the city is currently thinking of ways to solve both issues. According to Taylor, “defunding” is a vague term that could mean differently to many people. 

“What this says to me is a lot of folks think the current system isn’t working,” said Taylor, adding, “And we need to look at ways to change the police department to free them up to do the tasks that best suit their preparation and training.”

Additionally, councilwoman Nikki Fortunato Bas acclaims the importance of reinvestment in community programs to help redefine the police’s goals and objectives on their job. Together with Taylor, she is also a co-chairwoman of the Reimagining Public Safety task force.

“Public safety is about reinvestment in community programs that keep people safe,” expressed Bas. “And focusing police resources on addressing the violent crimes relating their training and preparedness of various situations,” she added.

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