Maryland residents strongly support expanding making more information public about police discipline, requiring independent investigations of misconduct and implementing racial bias training for officers, according to a new poll.
The Goucher College Poll released Monday also found a majority of those surveyed viewed both police and the Black Lives Matter movement favorably.
The findings come as local and state lawmakers are taking steps toward greater regulation of policing in light of nationwide protests against police violence and a resurgent Black Lives Matter movement.
Baltimore County recently approved a slate of changes, including limiting the use of chokeholds, protections for whistleblowers in the police department, and a requirement that officers intervene when they see colleagues use excessive force.
And state lawmakers are wrestling with creating statewide policies. A Senate committee held three days of hearings last month on a host of proposals, while a House of Delegates work group expects to issue recommendations this week.
Some of the most popular policies among those polled included creating a record of misconduct cases available to the public (87% support), requiring an independent state prosecutor to investigate misconduct instead of a police department internal affairs unit (85% support), implementing racial bias training for officers (82%) and creating statewide use-of-force policies (79%).
The poll of 1,002 Maryland adults was conducted using cellphone and landline numbers from Sept. 30 through Oct. 4. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
While 54% said they supported reducing police funding in favor of social programs, 79% said they support more funding for police for the purpose of hiring more or better trained officers.
Only 28% supported the “defund the police” movement, with 68% opposed. Mileah Kromer, director of Goucher’s Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center noted that the poll respondents are sending a “mixed message” on how police budgets should be handled.
Both “the police” generally and the Black Lives Matter movement counted support among nearly two-thirds of poll participants. But that support varied along racial lines: White Marylanders offered 73% support for the police and 56% support for Black Lives Matter. Fifty-four percent of Black Marylanders viewed the police favorably, while 85% had a favorable view of Black Lives Matter.