WPPA

The WPPA's 2021 Statewide Poll

May 11, 2021

Since 2013, the WPPA has been the only law enforcement group in the country to consistently commission objective public polling on issues related to policing in our communities. As Wisconsin’s largest law enforcement group, we have undertaken this effort out of a genuine desire to better understand the communities we serve and a commitment to be part of the solution to the problems that we collectively face as a state. Conducted annually by the St. Norbert College Strategic Research Institute, the WPPA’s polling has helped us take a leading and constructive role in the public dialogue on these issues.

The WPPA’s 2021 statewide survey – our 9th consecutive – comes on the heels of one of the most traumatic and divisive years in our nation’s history. Events such as the deaths of George Floyd  and Breonna Taylor, the shooting of Jacob Blake, and a contentious presidential election all served to make the issues surrounding policing more intense and polarizing than ever before.

As calls for major police reform pervade every level of government, this year’s survey effectively pierces the divisive rhetoric which often suggests that supporting the cause for social justice and supporting the police are mutually exclusive. While both illustrative and concerning, the results of the WPPA’s 2021 poll shed some much-needed light on the public’s views toward law enforcement and the type of policing they want to see from their local agencies.

Review a summary of the 2021 survey’s key findings.  Some of the highlights of the WPPA's 2021 poll include:

  • 79% strongly or somewhat approve of how ‘your local police force is handling its job’.
  • Keeping the community safe from crime’ was identified as the top priority for state and local governments, with no significant differences by demographics.
  • 80% agree that ‘having a well-funded police force improves quality of life in their community’ and 93% agree that a ‘well-trained police force makes their community safer’.
  • A majority of the public (66%) support spending more money for social programs, but not at the expense of their police department.
  • Only 11% of minorities believe that the police spend too much time in their neighborhoods and want to see the number of officers in their community decreased.
  • A majority of the public (59%) support increasing local taxes to pay for specially-trained mental health officers and the same proportion favors new local taxes to pay for body-worn cameras. 60% of minorities consider equipping officers with body-worn cameras an immediate priority, compared to 44% of whites.
  • More respondents (49%) agree that an officer should be permitted to use chokeholds in life-threatening situations.
  • 75% strongly or somewhat favor a law protecting officers from retaliation for reporting ‘instances of excessive force’.
  • Only 35% of minorities agreed that most of the individuals fatally shot by police officers in Wisconsin last year were armed. Data compiled by the WPPA demonstrates that 100% of the fatal police shootings involved armed individuals.
  • 87% of the public agrees that there should stronger penalties for people that destroy property during protests.

To request of copy of the 87-page poll report prepared by the St. Norbert College Strategic Research Institute in its entirety, please contact WPPA Executive Director Jim Palmer at palmer@wppa.com.