Evanston Now readers responding to an online survey are closely split between those favoring further cuts in police staffing in 2022 and those wanting no further reduction, while a significant minority favors increased police staffing.

Evanston Now is surveying its readers about a variety of issues relevant to the 2021 municipal election campaign.

We sent invitations to participate in the survey to readers of our email newsletters and 475 people responded.

Evanston aldermen, responding to pandemic-driven revenue shortfalls and protests demanding defunding the police, voted this fall to reduce police staffing by about 10% in the budget for 2021.

The City Council to be elected in April will have to decide whether to restore those cuts, hold steady, or make further reductions for 2022.

This chart shows responses broken out by the respondent’s race and a total that is adjusted to weight the responses based on the racial composition of Evanston’s total population as reported by the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

The weighting was needed because Asians and Blacks were underrepresented in the group responding to the survey.

The most common response, chosen by 44.5% of the weighted total group, is to leave the staffing level unchanged from what’s budgeted for 2021.

Just over 40% said they’d like to see some level of further cuts, while 15% called for some increased level of police funding.

Non-white residents were somewhat more likely than whites to favor staffing reductions. But Asians and members of “other” racial groups were slightly more likely than whites to favor some funding increase, while less than 4% of Blacks supported any increase in funding.

The second most common response, chosen by 18.9% of the total, was to cut staffing by another 10% in 2022.

The third most common response, chosen by 14.5%, was to make a 25% cut in police staffing.

The fourth most common response, chosen by 11.4% of respondents, is to increase funding in 2022 by 10% from its 2021 level.

We also looked at the data segmented by the age of respondents, and here it became apparent that younger people were more likely to favor reductions in police staffing, while older residents favored no change in staffing for 2022.

Older residents were more likely to respond to the survey than younger ones, and with no respondents to the survey under the age of 18, we weighted the total here to reflect the voting age population of Evanston.

If you aren’t currently registered to receive Evanston Now newsletters, but would like to participate in future reader surveys, you can sign up here.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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