PHILADELPHIA, PA — A new poll of likely voters from across the country shows strong bipartisan support for shifting law enforcement resources to prioritize the most serious and violent crimes like shootings and murders — an alignment with criminological research showing that sureness of consequences is far more impactful in addressing violent crime than the threat of severe punishment.
The poll, commissioned by Safer Cities and conducted by Data for Progress, found 78% of likely voters agree that “police departments should shift a significant portion of their internal resources to prioritize investigating and solving the most serious offenses like shootings and murder.” More than three-quarters of likely voters (76%) agree that City Councils “should use the budgeting process to ensure that police departments are making solving serious crimes like shootings and murders their top priority.”
Similarly, voters strongly expect mayors and police department leaders to be held accountable for solving serious, violent crimes like murder. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents agreed that solving homicide cases “should not only be a top priority for police departments, it should also be a top priority for mayors because mayors are the leaders of their cities and often hire and fire police chiefs.”
Since 2020, communities across the country have experienced an increase in shootings and homicides, most committed with firearms, while crime overall has continued a decades-long decline. Meanwhile, the U.S. recorded the largest decline in the homicide clearance rate — generally regarded as the rate by which reported incidents of homicide result in arrest or are considered solved — in 2020 (50%, down from 55% in 2019). In Philadelphia, just 29% of homicides and 15% of non-fatal shootings have resulted in arrests this year.
The Safer Cities poll also shows strong (71%) support for non-police responses to behavioral health and homelessness-related calls. Cities like Portland and Orlando have launched non-police pilot programs to address behaviors associated with poverty, addiction, and mental health crisis that are showing promising results.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, who has long been a proponent for reallocating policing resources toward forensic technologies and investigative training to solve more shootings and homicides, said the polling results align with what most shooting and homicide survivors say they want from the criminal justice system.
“People who have survived shootings, or who have lost loved ones to gun violence, want most of all for those harms to have never occurred and for their hearts to never have been broken. Short of prevention, what survivors want and frankly deserve is for the individuals responsible for hurting them to be removed from our communities as soon as possible, held accountable by the justice system, and to never inflict harm on another person ever again,” DA Krasner said. “Philadelphians especially know what they need for their communities to become healthy and strong; they have lived through cycles of heightened violence before. The people want swift and fair accountability for those who commit violent crime, and they also want more resources for behavior health and social services so that police can focus their time and attention where it really belongs.”
Philadelphia City Councilmember Kendra Brooks (At-Large) said: “The results of the recent Safer Cities poll echo what I have been hearing from my neighbors in North Philadelphia for years. Police departments should be allocating their resources toward solving homicides, rather than over-focusing on low-level offenses, which often causes further harm to our communities. Real public safety means addressing the root causes of harm and pursuing the conditions necessary for all community members to thrive. The resources are there to solve serious violent crimes. It’s time our police department’s priorities actually reflected the will of the people.”
PA Rep. Chris Rabb (Phila.) added, “If our police department isn’t oriented toward substantive crime prevention, nor is it responsible for prosecuting individuals charged with crimes, it seems only fitting that its primary focus should be on solving the spate of violent crimes that worry most residents of Philadelphia.”
“Our communities have been devastated by violence, and the magnitude of the demands for change in policing are unmistakable in the results of this important survey,” said PA Sen. Nikil Saval (Phila.). “Across political lines, people want to see increased resources go toward community safety programs and public services, and they want their elected representatives to hold police departments accountable for making progress on serious crime. Communities know their needs best, and public officials must prioritize them.”
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