Americans on Police Reform


For decades now, there have been periodic efforts to reform police practices and laws regarding the use of force, especially deadly force, by law enforcement officers. The recent deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and other incidents of law enforcement officers using deadly force have stimulated protest and demands for policing reforms.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 7120), sponsored by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), The JUSTICE Act (S. 3985), sponsored by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), failed to get cloture in the U.S. Senate, meaning the measure could not proceed for debate or a vote. .

The provisions in these two bills continue to the basis for ongoing debates over police reform, including: ● when police officers should use deadly force; ● what types of force police officers should be able to use, such as chokeholds; ● the use of no-knock warrants; ● the standards by which officers are held accountable for their use of excessive force; ● whether racial bias among police is a problem to be addressed; and ● how much regulation there should be of military equipment transferred to the police.

Both bills address these issues, to different extents. The most significant difference between the House bill and the Senate bill is how mandatory the proposed reforms are. The House bill would require that police departments and local governments implement new policies or be denied access to federal funding for police departments. The Senate bill would offer police departments new funding for training and data collection, and only in a few cases requires that police departments adopt new policies. The House bill also includes provisions to change the standards by which officers are criminally convicted and held civilly liable, which the Senate bill does not.

To bring the American people a voice at the table of the current debate on this legislation, the Program for Public Consultation (PPC) has conducted an in-depth on-line survey of over 3,000 registered voters with a probability-based sample provided by Nielsen Scarborough.

Unlike standard polls that rely on respondents’ existing impressions and information, PPC took respondents through a process called a ‘policymaking simulation’ that seeks to put respondents in the shoes of a policymaker. Respondents: ● are given a briefing on policy options under consideration ● evaluate strongly stated arguments both for and against each option ● make their final recommendation.

The content of the process is thoroughly reviewed by experts across the spectrum of opinion on the policy options to ensure that the briefing is accurate and balanced and that the arguments are the strongest ones being made by proponents and opponents.


A policymaking simulation is an online process that puts citizens in the shoes of elected officials by simulating the process they go through in making policy decisions. Each simulation introduces a broader policy topic and then presents a series of modules that address a specific policy option that is currently under consideration in the current discourse.

For each module, respondents:

  1. receive a short briefing on a policy issue and the option or options for addressing it;
  2. evaluate arguments for and against the policy options; and
  3. finally, make their recommendation for what their elected officials should do.