KALAMAZOO, Mich. (March 5, 2014) — It has been nearly six months since a racial profiling study showed black motorists were up to three times more likely to get pulled over than a white driver in Kalamazoo.
On Wednesday, Chief Jeff Hadley with the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety said they’ve significantly decreased the number of traffic stops conducted since that study.
According to the department, public safety officers made 3,841 traffic stops from September 2013 to January. That’s down from 7,298 stops in the same window in 2012 and 2013.
“We’re still going to do traffic stops, I mean, don’t get me wrong that’s a tool we have and we’re going to utilize those in a very effective way and efficient way,” he said.
Hadley said safety officers will be more specific when it comes to who and what they’re looking for when it comes to pulling someone over and they shouldn’t be doing anything at random.
The study, that was released in September 2013, also showed that while black drivers were more likely to be pulled over, they were less likely to be caught with contraband when searched.
In addition to how the officers will conduct their stops, Hadley said that each officer will focus on a specific location, and that they will have a portfolio of information about that community.
“If we can get our officers the best directions with the best information based on a multitude of factors, they’re going to be more effective, they’re going to be more efficient and it’s going to be much better for the community.”
Since the study, Hadley said they’re also working on their involvement with the community
“I think it’s a balance that we have to strike with going on and reducing crime, but building trust,” Hadley said.
Stephanie Moore, Kalamazoo City Commissioner said, while she thinks the steps the department has made over the last six months is an improvement, there’s one key process that needs to take place before things significantly improve.
“We have to figure out how to help people heal and with that healing comes the trust,” Moore said.
To continue moving forward, Moore also said the department needs to be strategic and that they also need to gain the input from the entire community.
“We have to engage people in the community, because without the community’s trust, we’re really not going to get anywhere between bridging the gap between KDPS and our community,” Moore said.
Hadley agreed and said building that relationship with the community is something the department is already working toward.
“Doing things that have nothing to do with putting hand cuffs on anybody or writing them a ticket or anything like that,” Hadley said. “Get out of your car, engage folks, get to know them, they get to know you and then we walk away from those mini-interchanges with mutual trust and respect for each other.”
A city commission meeting will be held Monday. Chief Hadley will address what the department’s been doing since the study.
Hadley said his officers will also have training on Monday and Tuesday for ‘Fair and Partial Policing.’ He said the community is invited to attend. Participants will need to be there for both days. You can RSVP by calling Stephani Ebinger at 269-337-8123.