Michigan State Police affirms ACLU’s call for racial profiling investigation

Michigan State Police affirms ACLU’s call for racial profiling investigation
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The ACLU of Michigan is awaiting results of a Michigan State Police (MSP) review of reports along the I-94 freeway that suggest a pattern of racial profiling.

MSP announced its plan for an internal review of traffic stops by members of the Fifth District Hometown Security Team on six randomly selected Fridays during early 2017. The announcement follows an ACLU call for the department to investigate after the organization had earlier requested MSP record the races of motorists it detains.

On the dates in question, four of the more active members of the District Hometown Security unit reportedly made stops that brought them into contact with 82 drivers or passengers, 48 percent of whom were identified as black, Hispanic or Asian, according to the statistics provided to the ACLU by the MSP. About 24 percent were identified as white and another 28 percent were reported to be of unknown race.

Mark Fancher, ACLU staff attorney

Mark Fancher, ACLU staff attorney, calls MSP’s plan for a review a good start, but suggests MSP use an independent investigation source.

“They affirmed what the law is that no trooper should be stopping anyone on the basis of race and that it’s inconsistent with MSP policy,” says Fancher. “When they conduct this review we think it would be helpful and important for them to engage an outside agency.”

A precedent was set by Kalamazoo police in recent years when the chief commissioned a study to learn whether racial profiling was taking place in the city, concluding there was profiling.

“There were measurable improvements, in terms of their stops,” says Fancher.

MSP can examine a full year’s worth of data since it started recording racial identity, which could benefit its policies and enforcement, Fancher says.

“We’re glad they’re going to do it,” he says. “But we want to see what they’re going to do.”

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