City Manager: Grand Rapids Police stopped more black motorists at traffic stops

Posted at 2:40 PM, Apr 18, 2017

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - City Manager Greg Sundstrom says that Grand Rapids Police stop more black motorists at traffic stops and that is troubling and disappointing.

Sundstrom made his comments Tuesday afternoon ahead of five town hall meetings starting tonight in the community.

"Findings from the Traffic Stop Study are very troubling," Sundstrom said in a press statement. "The City does not shy away from these disappointing findings. We own this."

The study was commissioned as one of 12 recommendations on improving police and community relations and covered a three-year period before the enactment of the recommendations in January of 2015.  A previous study done in 2004 showed that there was not a bias.

The consultant concluded that black motorists are 1.85 times more likely to be stopped in Grand Rapids than white motorists.  Hispanic drivers also experienced disparities while driving in some areas of Grand Rapids.

The data also showed that black motorists were searched more than non-black motorists, but were no more likely to be carrying contraband than non-black motorists.  Hispanic motorists who were searched were carrying contraband at an even lower rate than black motorists.

The study examined 20 intersections in the city of Grand Rapids from 2013 through 2015. The race and ethnicity of the drivers at those locations was surveyed on randomly selected days and times. Lamberth Consulting, the company doing the research, compared the proportion of minority stops to minority traffic.

The consultant also offered 12 recommendations for GRPD to eliminate disparities in traffic stops. Among the recommendations is further evaluating the data, training for officers and re-evaluating staff reward and recognition programs.

Residents are encouraged to attend one of the meetings to hear directly from the consulting firm that collected the data.  To see the complete report, see the city's website here.

The meetings are:

Tuesday, April 18

5:30pm – LINC UP Gallery at 1167 Madison Ave. SE
7:30pm – The Edge Urban Fellowship at 735 Ritzema Ct. SW
Wednesday, April 19

4:00pm – Michigan First Credit Union at 1815 Breton Dr. SE
5:30pm – Rockford Construction at 601 First St. SW
7:30pm – GRPS University at 1400 Fuller Ave. NE