I asked about response to 911 calls but later asked about responding to a series of crimes and got some odd results. This was my error in using “respond” rather than “be involved with.” Nevertheless, it seems clear that 50+ percent believe that the police should not respond to the following three:
• Noise complaints.
• Homeless encampments on private property.
• Blocked sidewalks.
It may be interesting to drill down into the differences regarding Black Lives Matter (BLM) and defunding the police.
When you hear “defund the police” from Black Lives Matter rallies, what is the first thing that you think they are saying?
A combined 45 percent believe that they want to abolish the police (23 percent) and spend money elsewhere or they are mad at the police and their functions (22 percent). Forty-seven percent combined want to significantly reduce the police force size and spend it on other functions.
Some have commented that the focus of BLM is associated with anti-racism and police brutality, where as the defund the police movement is going into a different area of general societal change that is not just racism but includes a whole different approach on a scale of many things.
An interesting divide
Look at the interesting divide when asked:
Would crime go up if the number of police officers in Concord were reduced?
62 percent, yes.
20, do not know.
Backtracking to see how they answer other questions, there is a clear correlation with those who are most in favor of reducing police, limiting their response to overt criminal actions and the perception of racial bias in the community. Comments indicate that the 18 percent here strongly believe that affordable housing, placing the homeless in homes and mental health help will directly reduce crime, where as a good portion either do not believe it or do not want to wait to reach those impacts.
Overall, Black Lives Matters speaks for me.
16 percent, strongly agree.
12, more times agree than disagree.
5, more times disagree than agree.
35, strongly disagree.
I trust the Concord Police to respond appropriately to my 911 calls.
44 percent, strongly agree.
14, neither agree nor disagree.
4, strongly disagree.
“I am a brown man, resident of Concord and police are set up to harm people like me. They do not protect people of color.”
“I am not sure what ‘appropriately’ means.”“People don’t realize how good our police department is.”
Treating people equally
I believe that the Concord police will treat all people equally.
38 percent, strongly agree.
17, neither agree nor disagree.
8, strongly disagree.
Have you witnessed the Concord police behaving in a racist manner?
9 percent, yes.
6, not sure.
1, do not want to answer.
“Laws and rules are only enforced if you’re white – and it is the City Council’s fault.”
“I don’t have to. I and others I know have had bad experiences with other(s) so we expect it.”
“No. And my circle of friends and family haven’t either. It is a professional organization with officers that want to help.”
Police in schools is a hot button issue actually brought on even more by schools’ fiscal issues. Concord schools cut budgets and eliminated the school police presence before all the May activism. However, the community remains divided.
Police should be assigned to high schools in Concord.
44 percent, agree.
23, do not know.
1, do not care.
Older versus younger views
A community activist commented that it was a divide by age group and that the older members of the community who went through the crime wave of the ’80s and ’90s or recall the school shootings from Columbine and Sandy Hook take a very different view than the younger ones who simply see the police as a repressive force rather than a protective force.
When thinking of the police budget, what comes to mind? Check all that apply.
20 percent, too much is always spent on the police budget.
7, existing levels of law enforcement be maintained with fewer officers.
34, how does the number of officers per 1,000 population compare to other communities?
53, is the city safe at the current level?
10, too many things.
36, other comments all over the place.
The people of Concord are racist.
15 percent, agree.
34, neither agree or disagree or do not know.
Concord City Council
Racism is a serious problem on the Concord City Council.
17 percent, agree.
48, neither agree or disagree or do not know.
I take this as a significant personal issue. Though I have had profound disagreements on a host of issues with the other four members, I am confident they are not racist. I have argued that some decisions have disproportionate impacts on ethnic or racial or even gender segments, but the origin of their disagreement lies not in racism but in other fundamental policy ideology or priorities.
An elected white person can never adequately represent non-white people.
13 percent, agree.
17 percent, unsure.
A white Concord police officer can deal with a non-white individual fairly.
73 percent, agree.
This gives me some hope for the American ideal of “We the People.”
Edi Birsan is a Concord City Councilmember, but Pulse of Concord has been his personal survey for the last 10 years and is not associated with the city of Concord or any other organization and represents his views and not that of anyone else. Write to him at EdiBirsan@gmail.com or go to his Facebook page, Pulse of Concord. To take part in a future survey, go to www.pulseofconcord.com