Home Press Releases & Statements Public Agenda/WNYC Survey Finds Stark Racial Differences In How New York Metropolitan Area Residents View Crime, Policing

Public Agenda/WNYC Survey Finds Stark Racial Differences In How New York Metropolitan Area Residents View Crime, Policing

October 12, 2015

Black and Hispanic Residents Twice as Likely as Whites to View Police-Community Relations as a Serious Problem


New York City – – As tensions around policing and race grow across the country, a new survey from Public Agenda and WNYC points to a racial divide in the way residents of the New York metropolitan region experience both police-community relations and crime, with black and Hispanic residents much more likely to see both as a serious problem where they live.

About half of black and Hispanic residents (53 and 56 percent, respectively) say that negative relations between police and the community are a serious problem in their cities or towns. Similarly, 56 percent of black residents and 54 percent of Hispanic residents say that the high rate of crime is a serious problem where they live.

These views stand in stark contrast to the views of white residents, 27 percent of whom feel negative relations between the community and the police are a serious problem where they live. Thirty-five percent say crime is a problem in their cities or towns.

These differences aren’t explained by income differences between racial and ethnic groups or by the greater likelihood for black and Hispanic residents to reside in New York City compared to white residents.

“The very people who most need law enforcement to be a positive force in their communities are having the most strained relations with the police,” said Will Friedman, president of Public Agenda. “Both problems will have to be addressed together if we’re going to make progress.”

“The findings seem to me to suggest that many black people feel at risk from their contact with both criminals and the police, something white people generally don’t have to worry about,” said Brian Lehrer, host of WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show. “The data also casts doubt on the political argument some people make that fear of the police is an activists’ exaggerated claim that most regular people don’t share.”


About the Public Agenda/ WNYC New York Metro Area Survey

The Public Agenda/ WNYC New York Metro Area Survey was conducted between June 29 and July 21, 2015 with 1,535 residents in the New York metro area, including New York City, Long Island, Southern New York State, Northern New Jersey, and Southern Connecticut. Additional responses were collected from 219 residents on a small subset of questions between August 25 and September 4, 2015. Data were collected via phone, including cellphone, and online, and weighted to be representative of known demographics in the region. See for a full description of the questions asked in the survey, complete survey responses and a comprehensive methodology report.

About Public Agenda

Public Agenda is a nonprofit organization that helps diverse leaders and citizens navigate divisive, complex issues. Through nonpartisan research and engagement, it provides people with the insights and support they need to arrive at workable solutions on critical issues, regardless of their differences. Since 1975, Public Agenda has helped foster progress on K-12 and higher education reform, health care, federal and local budgets, energy and immigration. Find Public Agenda online at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at @PublicAgenda.

About WNYC

From its state-of-the-art studios in New York City, WNYC is reshaping audio for a new generation of listeners with groundbreaking, innovative radio programs and podcasts including Radiolab, Freakonomics Radio, On the Media, Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin, Death, Sex & Money and Note to Self among others. With an urban vibrancy and a global perspective, WNYC is America’s most listened-to public radio station and the home to an award-winning newsroom of 70 journalists.


Vania Andre, Public Agenda
Phone: 212-686-6610, ext. 127