Survey: Regardless of your politics, Portland wants more cops

Civic Affairs

Survey by GS Strategy Group conducted for People for Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new survey of Portland voters shows residents are feeling less safe about the city, know more police are needed but want the police bureau to be reformed and well-trained, not defunded.

That’s the overview from the survey by the GS Strategy Group conducted for the group People of Portland. Between September 22-27, 2021, the survey polled 600 likely voters in the city of Portland.

Political consultants Dan Lavey and Kevin Looper co-founded People for Portland.

“Portland is the last major city without body cameras and the thing body cameras do is they hold people on both sides of the law accountable,” Looper said.

People For Portland co-founders Kevin Looper, left, and Dan Lavey, October 12, 2021 (KOIN)

While Lavey and Looper typically oppose each other on political issues, the results of this poll show most people in the city want more police officers and they want them to wear body cameras.

“We saw in a ton of other questions they want more community policing, cops that look like the city and that are located in their neighborhoods,” Lavey said. “Absolutely, that’s the direction to reform the police department, but first and foremost they need more officers on the street.”

Details of the survey

The survey showed 76% of Portland residents know the city’s problems are real and not exaggerated by the media. A full 60% of those who were once opposed to police are now beginning to support more police being hired, and 71% say they support hiring more police officers even though they are concerned about social justice and racism in the bureau.

Portland City Commissioner Mingus Mapps, September 15, 2021 (KOIN)

Comments made by City Commissioner Mingus Mapps also were part of the survey. Mapps, who is Black, said the city needs to hire 300 new officers, require body cameras, have a dedicated social worker street response team and have a unit dedicated to fighting gangs. An overwhelming 87% of respondents agreed with him.

A majority of Portlanders in the survey (53%) want to hire at least 200 officers. An equal number of respondents (19%) want to hire less than 200 or more than 300 officers.

Only 8% of respondents do not support hiring more police officers in Portland.

The ideas of body cameras for Portland police, doubling the Street Response program, adding staff to the 311 program and adding precincts throughout the city had overwhelming support — 87% to 96% support in the survey.

A full 85% of people surveyed are concerned about rising gun violence and record-setting homicides. When given a choice, Portlanders want more police on the streets (56%) than dealing with a prevention-only response (31%).

Between May and September 2021, residents views of the police flipped dramatically. The survey found 58% of respondents viewed PPB negatively in May, but in September 58% viewed PPB favorably.

However, residents are concerned and aware of law enforcement failures and shortcomings in 911 response and size of the bureau. They were also extremely concerned (62%) that PPB “allowed the Proud Boys and Antifa to battle it out in the streets and not intervene” in August.

Who took the survey

The survey respondents came nearly equally from Outer East, Inner East, North and West sections of the city. There were slightly more women than men, 52-48%. More people between the ages of 18-34 (25%) took the survey than did people 65+ (23%).

Politically, the survey respondents self-identified as Very Liberal (29%), Liberal (20%), Moderate (33%) and Conservative (11%). By party, 63% were Democrats, 21% Independents and 10% Republicans.

People of Portland, the organization that commissioned the survey, describes themselves as “a 501(c)(4) non-profit social welfare organization. Our mission is to provide a platform and voice for Portlanders to take grassroots action to advance our shared community values.”

The survey has a margin of error of 4%.

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