Amid weeks of protests over police brutality, a poll released Tuesday shows that a majority of Texans support law-enforcement reform.
The poll, which was conducted by Progress Texas and Public Policy Polling, showed that 73% of respondents agree police brutality is a “serious or somewhat serious problem.”
Ed Espinoza, executive director of Progress Texas, said in a statement: “As city councils work on their budgets, we encourage them to listen to their constituents on both sides of the aisle, who know that it’s time to reform, reallocate and rethink our approach to public safety. Black and Brown Texans’ lives depend on it.”
The desire for reform comes from both sides of the political spectrum. Half of the participants voted for President Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the last presidential election.
The poll was a survey of 907 Texas voters on June 18-19. Pollsters contacted half of the respondents by phone and half by text message.
Of the voters who responded, 72% said police need to change their use-of-force standards. When it came to military-grade vehicles and equipment, 46% of respondents said police didn’t need them, while 35% said they did.
As reported by Observer contributor Tyler Hicks, a Department of Defense Program program supplied millions of dollars' worth of military equipment to suburbs surrounding Dallas.
However, a majority of voters, 55%, said the national events surrounding the death of George Floyd have not changed how much they trust the police. A small number of them, 7%, said they trusted the police more, while 31% said they trusted the police less.
But participants in the poll didn’t completely agree on who’s to blame in police brutality incidents. The poll showed that while 40% blame brutality on individual officers alone, 34% pinned the blame on officers, the training academies and departments’ chiefs of police.
The poll comes as cities across the state, including Dallas and Fort Worth, begin to take up annual budgets. Just last month, members of Dallas City Council sent a memo to City Manager T.C. Broadnax asking for a reimagining of public safety and a review of the city’s budget priorities. Councilmember Adam Bazaldua authored the memo.
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A majority of the people surveyed said police shouldn’t have to deal with community issues like mental health and homelessness. Instead, 46% to 35% of them said portions of budgets should be used on addressing these issues, as well as public health and emergency medical services, not on police. Another 35% disagreed.
Around the time the survey was conducted, a coalition of local activists and faith leaders released a 10-point plan for reimagining public safety. A large part of their plan, which has since been presented to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, Broadnax and police Chief U. Renee Hall, involves reallocating police funds into communities in need.
Voters were also asked how they felt about the influence of police unions. Forty-four percent said these unions have too much influence, while 19% said they have just the right amount. Police unions have long pushed back against law enforcement reforms, such as quicker turnarounds for bodycam footage.
The Dallas City Council members will soon have to reconsider how they feel about the police department’s budget. In early June, the council postponed its vote on a $7 million budget increase for DPD. The council is expected to vote on the budget increase in August, which would cover unexpected costs due to hiring efforts.