Majority of New Yorkers oppose cuts to police funding, poll shows

57% of 806 voters surveyed opposed reducing funding for police departments

ALBANY, N.Y. -- A majority of New York state voters don't support reducing funding for police departments, even as they agree the recent killings of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks are part of a "pattern of excessive police violence toward Black people," a poll released Tuesday shows.

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Mr. Floyd, a Black Minneapolis man, was killed while in police custody on May 25. Mr. Brooks, a Black man, was fatally shot by Atlanta police officers on June 12. The killings have spurred nationwide protests over police brutality and racism.

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The poll, by Siena College Research Institute, found broad variations in respondents' attitudes on police issues depending on demographic factors like geography, race and political affiliation.

Ninety-one percent of Black respondents said they believed there was a pattern of excessive police violence, while 9% said the killings of Messrs. Floyd and Brooks were tragic, isolated instances. Forty percent of white respondents agreed with the latter statement. while 53% of the white voters surveyed last week said they were part of a pattern.

The poll found 57% of the 806 voters surveyed opposed reducing funding for police departments, and 60% said in response to a separate question that they opposed defunding police. Opposition to reducing funding for police was higher in upstate areas and the suburbs of New York City; 51% of respondents from New York City said they supported reducing police funding.

"Defund the police" has been a rallying cry at many demonstrations across the U.S., and lawmakers in New York City are considering a new budget that would reduce the New York Police Department's budget.

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday he was willing to shift $1 billion from the Police Department's $6 billion budget to other city agencies. He also said he wanted the city to reallocate $500 million from the NYPD's capital budget and put the money toward building youth centers and other facilities at public-housing developments.

New York state lawmakers earlier in June enacted laws to criminalize the use of chokeholds by police, to designate the attorney general to investigate and potentially prosecute instances where a civilian dies at the hands of police and to allow citizens to access disciplinary records of public safety officers.

The poll found broad support for these measures -- 80% of those surveyed said they were good for the state -- as well as agreement on several policies that are being considered by Congress.

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"At least 70 percent of Democrats, Republicans, independents, Blacks, Latinos, and whites agree on each of three police reforms: creating a national database of police misconduct; a federal law banning chokeholds by police; and, having mental-health professionals respond with police on calls involving homelessness, drug addiction or mental health," poll spokesman Steven Greenberg said.

The poll, which was conducted by phone from June 23 to 25, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

Write to Jimmy Vielkind at Jimmy.Vielkind@wsj.com

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