Most Milwaukeeans oppose “defunding” the police and believe that Milwaukee police are NOT racist, a new study found.
The vast majority of Milwaukee residents think Milwaukee police are doing a fair to excellent job and would turn to police if they needed help. The survey was conducted by Suffolk University/USA Today/The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on June 3-6, 2021.
It turns out that city and county officials and the city’s media – who are all in on the defunding the police rhetoric – are out of step with most Milwaukeeans in this poll.
The study found generally positive attitudes toward police in Milwaukee even as officials have steadily decreased the number of sworn officers on the force since the mid-1990s and despite the fact the department doesn’t have a permanent chief because of the city’s dysfunction. Specifically:
63% of people felt Milwaukee police “generally do a good job and treat people of different races fairly, even if there are a few bad apples on the force.” Only 28% feel Milwaukee police “are racist in the way they treat people, even if some of them try to do a good.”
That’s despite the fact that more than half of people surveyed think they’re treated differently in the city in general because of their race, and the vast majority of those interviewed were Democrats and Independents, not Republicans.
According to the poll, 62% of people would feel safer with more officers in their neighborhood.
Furthermore, public safety and education are the issues concerning most Milwaukeeans surveyed the most – not “police reform.” However, 55% of people supported the idea of cutting some funding and using the money for social services, like helping the homeless or mentally ill.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a large story on the new poll, with a headline predictably slanted negatively toward the police. “Inside one city: Milwaukee residents dissatisfied with police amid a nationwide reckoning,” blared the headline on the article by Susan Page, Ashley Luthern, Chelsey Cox, and Sarah Elbeshbishi.
The top of the story is also slanted negatively to MPD, with the writers reporting: “Amid a reckoning over law enforcement that is roiling the nation, Milwaukee residents by nearly 2-1 give low ratings to the city’s police department, a new Suffolk University/USA TODAY Network Poll finds.”
But did they really? Did the study find broad dissatisfaction among city residents toward their Police Department? No. The reporters’ bias slanted the story.
To get to their subjective conclusion that residents gave the police “low ratings,” the journalists included people who feel the police are doing a “fair” job as a low rating and ignored the fact in their lead that 63% felt Milwaukee police were doing a “good job” in another question. Although they did report some of the positive findings later on in the story, it’s the “take” of it – the overall slant – that we’re challenging.
We unearthed the actual poll on the Suffolk University website. We found a very different story; only 16% think police are doing a poor job.
More people think they’re doing “good” (25.8%) or “excellent” (8.8%) than “poor.” 45% felt they were doing a fair job.
More than 78% of people believe the Milwaukee police are doing a fair, good or excellent job.
Defund Milwaukee Police?
57% of people oppose defunding the police. Only 29 percent support it.
There are a lot of other positive things in this study for police.
Two-thirds of people generally feel safe in their neighborhood and more than 82% would be very or somewhat likely to ask a police officer for help.
More than 94% people would be very or somewhat likely to report a crime they witnessed to police.
People were more divided on use of force: 40% believe Milwaukee police use force only when necessary, 45% don’t, and 14% were undecided.
Stops and searches were one area where police did not do as well. 54% felt police stopped and searched people when they don’t have good reason.
Of those who have called police, more than 70% were very or somewhat satisfied, however.
78% of those surveyed don’t have children in the public school system.
Only 7.4% of those polled were Republicans, 36% were Independents and 46% were Democrats.
People overwhelming believe that “public safety” is the biggest issue facing the City of Milwaukee today (21.4%) compared to only 7.8% who listed “police reform.” Public safety was the number one issue (race relations was second at 20.6%)
Education was the next biggest issue chosen by most people.