Two-Thirds Of D.C. Voters Surveyed Support Removing Police From Schools The findings also indicate broad support for increasing taxes on wealthy Washingtonians.
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Two-Thirds Of D.C. Voters Surveyed Support Removing Police From Schools

A new poll found that nearly two thirds of respondents support removing police from schools. Tony Hisgett/Flickr hide caption

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Tony Hisgett/Flickr

In a new poll, the left-leaning D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute found that the majority of local voters surveyed support removing police from schools, according to results released Wednesday.

The institute and D.C. Action for Children, a non-profit youth advocacy organization, commissioned the Democratic polling firm, Polling Public Policy, who polled 590 D.C. voters on June 15 and 16.

The poll found that 65% of respondents support removing police-contracted personnel from schools and redistributing the funds to school mental health and student support programs. The Metropolitan Police Department and D.C. Public Schools did not immediately respond to DCist's request for comment on the findings.

The findings also said 83% of people polled support raising taxes on the city's wealthiest residents in order to maintain public services. 78% said they believe residents earning a taxable income of $350,000 or more per year should pay higher taxes.

Similarly, 72% said locals earning $250,000 or more annually should pay more in taxes, and nearly four out of five people said they would support higher taxes to avoid budget cuts to programs that disproportionately impact black and brown residents, among other findings.

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"I think that what we're seeing is a moral call to action across the nation," says Tazra Mitchell, policy director at DCFPI. "The uprising for racial justice underway is bringing attention to structural inequities, but it's also bringing attention to budgets that overspend on policing and punishment, but underspend on childhood health care and schools."

She adds, "I think what that finding is confirming is that fair budget tax justice is also racial justice."

The majority of respondents were black, at 44%, while white residents made up 43% of those polled. The respondents lived primarily in Wards 3, 4 and 6, and 74% said they were Democrats.

The results of the poll come as large-scale protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis have fueled a debate over funding for MPD, with many demonstrators calling for the city to make drastic reforms, including redistributing police funds to other city services.

During a D.C. Council budget oversight hearing last week, days after the Council unanimously passed an emergency police-reform bill, DCPS Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee defended officers' presence in schools, saying officers and security guards are essential for student safety.

"We have worked really hard to ensure our school resource officers and security guards reflect our values for how we support students in our schools," Ferebee said during the hearing, according to the Washington Post. "When I talk to students, many of the trusted adults they go to are some of our security guards or school resource officers."

DCPS has a $23 million contract with MPD, which provides for over 300 unarmed private security guards at traditional public schools, according to the Post. The school system also separately employs 17 armed officers who have some police powers, like the ability to arrest people, and MPD's budget includes funding for 98 School Resource Officers who are deployed to both DCPS's traditional public and charter schools.

Other parts of the region are having similar debates about removing police from schools. Last week, a Prince George's County Board of Education committee voted to end its school resource officer contract with the police department, though the board has since tabled the measure until the fall.

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