Most Americans Say Cops Shouldn’t Ignore ‘Minor Offenses’

Female police officer walking near a police vehicle. | Image by Supamotionstock.com/Shutterstock

More than seven out of 10 registered voters in the United States want the police to enforce “minor offenses,” according to a recent national poll.

The survey conducted by Harvard CAPS/Harris poll in July found that 71% of respondents said they believed “the police should enforce laws for minor offenses like shoplifting and subway fare jumping.”

Only 29% of people suggested that they did not think such crimes should be punished.

Republican voters supported enforcement the most, with 78% supporting the proposition while only 22% disagreed. Independents registered the next highest share of support, with 70% for enforcement and 30% against.

Democrats were the least in favor of criminals being held accountable for “minor offenses.” Nevertheless, a substantial 65% still thought such offenses should be punished. Only 35% said otherwise.

The poll results come as jurisdictions across the country are dealing with what some have considered to be the consequences of soft-on-crime policies.

In Dallas, reported incidents of shoplifting are up more than 50% year over year as of July 29, according to a report by the Dallas Police Department.

Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot had previously instituted a sweeping amnesty policy for individuals who stole goods worth $750 or less.

During public hearings on the law, Dallas resident Steven Ellis criticized Creuzot’s policy, asking, “Since when is $750 of someone’s hard earned money and personal property not worthy of legal protection? What if, like my mother, an elderly person is robbed of her precious and only remaining picture of her dear husband or parents because of the picture frame? Does her only remaining picture not deserve legal protection?”

After substantial pushback from both the public and other law enforcement agencies in the area, Creuzot rescinded his order, as reported by The Dallas Express.

“I have come to the understanding that this policy is more aspirational than realistic and rather than helping those in need, I have watched that population, and primarily people of color, be blamed for a rise in crime,” Creuzot said, according to WFAA.

To address and prevent such non-prosecution policies, Gov. Greg Abbott recently signed a law passed by the Texas Legislature that empowers citizens to initiate a process to remove so-called “rogue DAs.”

The Harvard CAPS/Harris poll also suggested that voters were disappointed with the state of criminal activity in the country.

Only 37% of all respondents felt that President Joe Biden and his administration were appropriately handling the “violence and crime in the country,” and nearly one out of five people said “crime and drugs” were the most important issues facing the nation.

With the 2024 presidential election cycle in full swing, 61% of voters said they wanted candidates to discuss “bread-and-butter issues like inflation and crime” more.

Such a sentiment is likely widespread in Dallas, where the police department only has around 3,100 sworn officers working — far fewer than the 4,000 recommended by a City analysis that claims Dallas needs roughly three officers for every 1,000 residents.

The Harvard CAPS/Harris poll was conducted July 19-20, surveying 2,068 registered voters.

“Results were weighted for age within gender, region, race/ethnicity, marital status, household size, income, employment, political party, political ideology, and education where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population,” the survey reads.

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