NEWARK, NJ — A new poll conducted by the Newark-based nonprofit Project Ready surveyed city residents on their sentiments about race and police reform in Newark, finding that more than half of participants strongly supported the city’s police reform efforts.
Out of 416 Newark residents, 60% believed that conditions are better in Newark than in other cities when it comes to race and excessive use of force by police, while 5% said it is worse.
Residents overwhelmingly supported (85%) Mayor Ras Baraka on issues of race and policing, and 67% rated the Newark Police Division as “excellent” or “good” during the protests and pandemic.
“Newark has been held up as a national model for cities that responded well to the protests after George Floyd’s murder, but the message we heard directly from Newarkers was more nuanced,” said Shennell McCloud, Executive Director of Project Ready, which is working to mobilize voters in the July 7 primary and future elections.
A quarter of those surveyed said they felt they or a family member were harassed by Newark police, with 31% of that population identifying as African-American, 22% identifying as Hispanic and 15% identifying as white. Twelve percent of those who said they experienced harassment said they reported it.
Another 28% of Newarkers report having a positive experience with a Newark police officer who helped keep them safe from a potentially dangerous situation. The rate was higher among white (39%) and Hispanic (37%) than Black (21%) residents.
The survey also found strong support for reforms to policing in Newark, including requiring police to de-escalate situations (88% support, 71% strongly support), banning chokeholds, (85% support, 80% strong support), requiring comprehensive reporting when a weapon is pointed at civilians (84% support, 75% strongly support), publicly sharing discipline records and police data with all residents (81% support, 64% strongly support) and banning shooting at moving vehicles (76% support, 60% strongly support).
Only 10% of Newarkers believe white and Black people are treated equally by the United State’s criminal justice system, including only 3% of Black and 28% of white residents.
"By a wide margin, Newark residents agree that their city is handling race and police matters better than other cities and support the mayor on the issue, but nearly a third of Black Newarkers say they’ve been harassed by police, and across the board residents strongly support a variety of police reforms," McCloud said.