KALAMAZOO (WWJ/AP) - A yearlong study has found that police in Kalamazoo are more than two times as likely to stop black motorists than white motorists.
The study by Lamberth Consulting concluded Kalamazoo Public Safety officers racially profile and target black motorists in traffic stops, The Kalamazoo Gazette reported.
Dr. John C. Lamberth, founder and CEO of Lamberth Consulting, said the study found issues citywide.
Click here to read the study results (.pdf format)
“These data suggest that throughout the city, but particularly in the north portion of the city, too many Black motorists are being stopped,” Lamberth said in the report.
“These results should be carefully considered by KDPS and changes made in the culture of the organization to assure that this situation does not persist. This is a difficult and time-consuming activity, but must be undertaken by KDPS if it is to repair its relationship with the Black citizens of Kalamazoo,” Lamberth continued.
In conducting the study, Lamberth examined traffic stops between March 1, 2012, and Feb. 28, 2013, at 12 locations in the city. The locations were chosen based on ”the high number of stops at each, traffic patterns that were relatively representative of the jurisdiction, as well as accessibility for surveyors.”
All but one of the locations had a sufficient number of traffic stops for Lamberth to analyze. At every site, black motorists were more likely to be stopped than white motorists. Additionally, the study found that relative to the percentage of black motorists stopped by police, fewer are given citations but more are asked by officers to exit their vehicle and are searched.
“The results of our study of KDPS are clear, unequivocal and systemic – a disproportionate number of black motorists are being stopped and upon being stopped are much more likely to be asked to exit their vehicle, to be handcuffed, searched and arrested,” Lamberth’s report said.
Police Chief Jeff Hadley said recommendations in the study will be part of an action plan by his agency. Among the changes, Hadley said a policy will be put in place over the next 30 days to offer more guidance for officers on when they should ask for consent to search.
“I believe in my officers 100 percent,” Hadley said. “They are good, well-intended people. I have no doubt we’re going to rise above this part of our history and be so much better as we move into the future.”
The yearlong study, which came at the request of the city’s Citizens Public Safety Review and Appeals board, cost the city $112,990.
About 22 percent of Kalamazoo’s residents are black, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.
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