Americans tend to believe police officers make schools safer for students
March 9th, 2021, Jamie Ballard

Americans tend to believe police officers make schools safer for students

School districts in several cities including Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Seattle have moved to reduce or eliminate police officers being stationed in public schools, largely in response to concerns about how police interact with communities of color. Some districts have said they are reallocating the funds to hire more social workers and counselors to address issues that happen on school grounds. But new data suggests Americans may not see this as a wise move.

In a YouGov poll of more than 9,000 US adults, the most common view (45%) is that having police officers on campus makes schools safer for students. Another 29% think it doesn’t have a significant impact on safety, and 14% say this makes schools less safe.

Hispanic (48%) and white (47%) Americans are more likely than Asian (39%), Black (36%), and Native American (22%) people to say that police officers make schools safer.

Among those Americans who are a parent to at least one child under 18, about half (49%) believe police officers make schools safer for students. Among Black parents, 40% believe law enforcement officers make schools safer for students while 33% say they don’t make a difference. Fewer Black parents think campus officers actively make school less safe for students (14%). Hispanic parents (56%) are especially likely to say police officers improve safety on campus.

Unsurprisingly, a person’s trust in their local police force may affect their view on officers on campus. Among those who agree with the statement “I trust my local police force,” 58% believe stationing police officers on campus makes things safer for students. Among those who disagree with the statement, far fewer (26%) think putting police on campus improves safety, while 30% think officers make schools less safe. Another 31% say the presence of law enforcement doesn’t make students any more or less safe.

See full results here.

Related: More support for redirecting police funds to community resources than defunding police

Methodology: 9,778 US adults were asked “Do you believe stationing police officers in public schools generally makes schools more safe or less safe for students?” The survey was conducted between February 17 - 24, 2021. The responding sample is weighted to be representative of the US population.