June 3, 2021 | MacArthur Foundation
The Harris Poll asked Chicagoans about their attitudes toward public safety solutions, gun violence, and police-resident relations.
MacArthur teamed up with The Harris Poll to better understand how Chicagoans feel about public safety. What we found is a city deeply troubled by gun violence and police-resident relations. However, Chicagoans attitudes toward solutions for addressing these issues—including the “Defund the Police” movement—were more nuanced and diverged along racial lines and their lived experiences.
Despite conflicting opinions around solutions, what emerged most saliently in the survey is that Chicagoans want to see changes to the laws, systems, and organizations that contribute to and help prevent the violent crime plaguing our city.
Key findings from this report include:
- 50 percent of all Chicago area residents say gun violence is the most important problem in Chicago today–five times higher than the next most-mentioned problem: property taxes.
- Chicago residents overwhelmingly agree that gun violence in Chicago needs to be reduced (96 percent) and that Chicago law enforcement needs reform (76 percent).
- 64 percent of residents agree there is evidence of persistent racial bias in Chicago’s policing practices, and 68 percent agree major reforms are needed within the Chicago police department regarding the treatment of Black and Latino people.
- 79 percent of residents agree that they feel safer when they see a police officer in their neighborhood. However, this sense of safety is lower specifically among communities of color.
- 53 percent of residents do not believe Chicago has a strong sense of community.
- Overall, trust in the police is moderate. On a scale of 0 to 10, Chicago area residents rate their trust in police as a 5.9. This is even lower for young adults, communities of color, and city dwellers.