Americans believe crime is out of control. So say 70% of the respondents in an August 2021 poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports (RR) and the National Police Association. Combined, 90% of likely voters are “somewhat” to “very concerned” about the recent increase in violent crime. Quoting RR: “Voters are overwhelmingly concerned about violent crime and believe many so-called criminal justice reforms are contributing to the problem.” What does this mean?
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At a fundamental level, this means that the dramatic changes made in the name of police and criminal justice “reform” do not have broad community support. Additionally, fundamentally, there is still common sense among the American people. The people living in far too many communities have good reason to believe that crime is out of control.
Some Additional Community Wisdom Observable from the Poll
The survey respondents have key guidance for the nation’s elected officials:
- 75% believe that politicians should meet with crime victims before suggesting changes in policing.
- 74% believe that politicians should do a “ride along” with local police before suggesting changes in policing.
- 73% believe that politicians who vote to defund the police should not be able to use tax money to hire private security for themselves.
Prosecutors are wrong when they unilaterally decide to ignore their oaths.
- 70% of respondents believed that refusing to prosecute criminals contributes to rising violent crime.
The national community does not support several justice system changes pushed by activists:
- 73% of respondents believed that letting accused violent criminals out of jail without bail, while they await trial, increases violent crime.
- 61% of respondents believed that early prison releases contribute to rising violent crime.
- 63% of respondents opposed “reforms” that require revealing witness home addresses to suspects.
Media coverage is part of the problem.
- 56% of respondents believe that how the media is covering crime contributes to the rise in violent crime.
The national community has concerns about recent changes to police operations:
- 52% of respondents believed “reforms” that prohibit police foot pursuits contribute to violent crime.
- 52% of respondents believed “reforms” that prohibit police vehicle pursuits contribute to violent crime.
The community assessment of policing does not match the anti-police rhetoric:
- Only 9% of respondents believed the police in their area were “too tough” on violent criminals.
- Only 24% of respondents believed diverting resources from policing toward social workers would decrease violent crime.
- Only 44% of respondents believed their local police had the resources necessary to “battle violent crime.”
Another Hadleyville Warning Sign
What does this mean? Fundamentally, absent public support, the police and the larger criminal justice system cannot meet their public safety mission. The community rejects those changes to the law, and the policies which direct police operations, that they see as contributing to increases in violence. Because those who live in communities that already suffer from elevated levels of violence are looking for true public safety – not political maneuvering, or worse – pandering.
In a Hadlelyville warning sign, 21% of respondents to the Rasmussen survey stated they have recently considered moving because of violent crime in their area. Why? Because crime is out of control in far too many communities. Thomas Lemmer was the first to speak about Hadleyvilles in his 2015 article “It’s High Noon for American Policing.” A Hadleyville is a place where those wearing a badge do not have the support needed from community leaders to continue serving. No rational person would choose to live in a Hadleyville.
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