Kalamazoo Public Safety Addresses Racial Profiling Issue

Posted at 3:55 PM, Sep 04, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-05 12:57:45-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The results of a year-long study pertaining to racial profiling among the Kalamazoo police force have been released.

Chief Jeff Hadley, of the department of public safety, ordered the study in 2011. It cost the city about $112,000.

The research was done by Lamberth Consulting focused on police traffic stops at twelve intersections. It found that African Americans were 1.15 to 2.98 times more likely to get pulled over than Caucasians. The study said that African Americans made up 20 percent of drivers in the focus areas.

According to the data, African Americans were also were less likely to have contraband in their vehicles. During a press conference, at one point Hadley got emotional talking about the study and how the department needs to reverse the negative trend of racial profiling.

“We got to deal with the data. We said we were going to tell the truth and that`s what we`re doing. There`s no other option,” Hadley said.

The chief added, “There`s a lot of mixed emotions, and I think at first when you get hit with those type of results it stings.”

Between March 2012 and the end of February 2013 answers to several questions were sought by Lamberth. The questions include the following:

“Is there evidence of targeting of minority motorists in traffic stops conducted by KDPS?”

“Are Blacks and/or Hispanic drivers treated in a similar fashion after the stop occurs?”

Lamberth found that “Black motorists are stopped at a higher rate than would be expected by their presence in traffic.”
The study found that African Americans make up 20 percent of drivers in the focus areas. The following twelve intersections were monitored:

1.   Park & Patterson                  2.98 (times more likely)
2.   Kalamazoo & Westnedge    2.66
3.   Cork & Redmond                 2.38
4.   Main & Catherine                2.29
5.   Whites & Bronson               2.13
6.   Portage & Stockbridge        1.96
7.   KL & Little                             1.85
8.   Stadium & Rambling           1.70
9.   Michigan & Lafayette          1.64
10. Burdick & Richards              1.63
11. Kilgore & Milham Park        1.50
12. Lovers Lane & Sunnock       NA

Software was used to track the data. It found that more African Americans were requested to get out of their vehicle and searched more often. Also, considerably more were handcuffed and arrested.

“However, when we look at the percentage of motorists who are carrying contraband we find that the group that is searched most, blacks, by quite a large amount, is least likely to be carrying contraband,” Hadley said.

In addition to training officers to be aware of any bias. The chief made several recommendations on how the department can improve, including ‘early warnings’ if an officer has a pattern of targeting certain groups. Community leaders like Pastor E. Allen Hayes stand behind the chief. He also has a suggestion for drivers who feel they’ve been treated unfairly.

“Get the badge number, get the name, and you can go to any police station and put that report in, and I believe without a question of a doubt that it will be followed up on,”
Hayes said.

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