Protesters in downtown march and stop at the Detroit Police Station for a second night of protests in Detroit May 30, 2020. They were marching to protest police brutality and the death of George Floyd.

Amid a jump in violent crime in this and other cities nationwide, Detroit residents report being much more worried about public safety than about police misconduct, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University/Detroit Free Press Poll finds.

By an overwhelming 9-1, they would feel safer with more cops on the street, not fewer. While a third complain that Detroit police use force when it isn’t necessary – and Black men report high rates of racial profiling – those surveyed reject by 3-1 the slogan of some progressives to “defund the police.”

“It’s scary sitting in the house, and when you go outside to the gas station or the store, it’s possible someone will be shooting right next to you,” said Charlita Bell, 41, a lifelong Detroit resident who was among those called in the poll. Last year, when her car was hit by stray bullets during a shopping trip, she hurried home rather than wait for the police for fear the shooter might return.

Charlita Bell is interested in what the candidates for Michigan governor have to say at her home in Detroit on July 24, 2021.

“It’s always some random shootings,” sighed Rita Gibbs, 70, who is so distressed she hates to turn on the news these days. “I just can’t stand it.”  

The Detroit survey was the second in a series called CityView, a project by the USA TODAY Network and the Suffolk University Political Research Center exploring attitudes of the residents in major American cities toward policing, public safety and community. The first poll, taken in Milwaukee last month, found broad dissatisfaction with law enforcement practices there. 

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