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Michigan State Police acknowledge racial disparities in traffic stops

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Joe Ross
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Michigan State Police said Wednesday that they will take “immediate action” to correct racial disparities in traffic stops revealed in analysis by researchers at Michigan State University.

The report – based on analysis the state police commissioned in 2020 – found that Black drivers were stopped, searched, and arrested at disproportionately high rates.

State police laid out five points of a plan they said would begin to address the disparities.

The plan includes hiring a consulting firm to review police policies, launching a statewide listening effort to engage in “open and honest conversation with leaders from communities of color,” making more data available to troopers, creating a police bureau responsible for training, and issuing body-worn cameras to all troopers who could have “enforcement contact” with the public.

“Michiganders deserve unbiased policing, transparency and accountability from their state police, and that’s what they’re going to get,” said state police director Col. Joe Gaspar in a statement accompanying the study’s findings.

State police also published reactions to the findings from leaders in communities of color.

“The results of this study confirm what people of color around the country have always known,” said Rev. Daniel Moore Sr., Pastor of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church of Flint. “Racial disparity in policing is real.”

Tene-Sandra M. Ramsey, Field Director for The Black Slate in Detroit, said state police are “moving in the right direction, but we all have to work together to ensure these findings and action plans drive real, long-lasting changes in policing.”

The findings in the study were based on 2020 state police data. MSP said it would work with Michigan State University to analyze its 2021 traffic stops too.

Brett joined Michigan Radio in December 2021 as an editor.
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