FERNDALE (AP) – Ferndale police officers will receive diversity and sensitivity training in the aftermath of an American Civil Liberties Union study that found a disproportionate number of black motorists getting tickets in the northern Detroit suburb, even as the city continues to deny any racial profiling.
The study released in September found that about 60 percent of the motorists ticketed in an area near Detroit were black when the driver’s race was known. It analyzed thousands of tickets issued between January 2013 and May 2014 after the advocacy group received anonymous complaints. In a letter to the city, the ACLU said the study showed that Ferndale police “possibly” were racially profiling drivers.
According to the U.S. Census, Ferndale had about 20,000 people in 2010. The population was about 85 percent white and about 10 percent black.
The ACLU has suggested the department seek outside help on the issue by hiring an independent group to investigate and has exchanged letters with the city about the issue.
Police Chief Timothy Collins said Ferndale already was planning diversity training before getting the letter from the ACLU.
“Admittedly, the ACLU letter got the issue on the front burner and got us thinking about getting the training done,” Collins told the Daily Tribune of Royal Oak. “The training is a good thing, and we’re happy to do it.”
Ferndale made diversity training for police and staff a priority a couple of years ago, said Acting City Manager Joe Gacioch. He said the goal of the diversity training is to reinforce the prevention of bias in policing practices.
The city expects to hire a consultant sometime in April to do the training. Gacioch said all police employees and city department heads are required to take the three- to six-month training. None of this should be taken to mean that Ferndale accepts that it’s police profile black motorists, he said.
“We still disagree with the ACLU conclusions, the methods they used in their study and the data sets used to draw their conclusions,” Gacioch said.
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