Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — A yearlong study has found that police in Kalamazoo are more than two times as likely to stop black motorists as they are to stop white motorists, and the city's police chief plans to use the review's recommendations to make changes aimed at addressing the discrepancy.
The study by Lamberth Consulting concluded that Kalamazoo Public Safety officers racially profile and target black motorists in traffic stops, the Kalamazoo Gazette reported. Chief Jeff Hadley released the results Tuesday night.
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. He said the study provides an opportunity for the department to change how it operates.
"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 $112,990 study found issues citywide. Dr. John C. Lamberth, founder and CEO of Lamberth Consulting, said in the report that the results should be "carefully considered by KDPS and changes made in the culture of the organization to assure that this situation does not persist."
The study was done at the request of the city's Citizens Public Safety Review and Appeals board. It was a voluntary move, but there had been past complaints. About 22 percent of Kalamazoo's residents are black, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.
"It's been like the elephant in the room," said Kalamazoo Vice Mayor Hannah McKinney. "It's something that you knew existed but it was too volatile to really, really talk about, let alone try to really do something about."
In conducting the study, Lamberth examined traffic stops between March 1, 2012, and Feb. 28, 2013, at 12 locations in the city.
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.