Study found racial disparities in traffic stops by Michigan State Police troopers

An independent study found racial and ethnic disparities in traffic stops conducted by Michigan State Police in 2020. Black drivers were disproportionately more likely to be pulled over, the report said.

The report, conducted by Michigan State University, found the following based on their racial/ethnic representation in the population:

  • African American drivers were significantly more likely to be involved in a traffic stop
  • Hispanic drivers were significantly less likely to be stopped
  • Asian drivers were significantly less likely to be stopped

The report also found African American and Hispanic drivers were significantly more likely than white drivers to be searched or arrested after traffic stops.

In District 5, which covers Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph, Van Buren, Kalamazoo, Allegan, Barry, Calhoun and Branch counties, the report found 21% of the traffic stops involved an African American driver, but they represent just 7.6% of the population.

In Michiana’s district, African American drivers were 3 times more likely to be stopped by a trooper, the report found.

MSP Director Col. Joe Gasper released a five step plan to address disparities in traffic stops.

  • Hiring an independent consulting firm to review MSP policies with an eye toward making recommendations for systemic changes that will address racial disparities.
  • Launching a statewide listening and engagement effort, in partnership with the Bridges to B.L.U.E. Citizen Advisory Council, in which MSP leadership will engage in open and honest conversation with leaders from communities of color, surfacing problems and finding solutions together.
  • Making more data available to MSP troopers through a dashboard that will provide real-time traffic stop data so they can learn about and adjust their actions.
  • Ramping up educational opportunities for troopers and recruits through the creation of the department’s Professional Development Bureau. This new bureau will provide training and development for enforcement members on familiar topics, as well as on new and emerging topics including mental health, wellness, de-escalation, cultural competency, decision-making, implicit bias and communication skills.
  • Issuing body worn cameras to all enforcement members who could have enforcement contact with Michigan residents and visitors.

Read the full report here

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