KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) - Police and community members are responding to the results of a racial profiling study that show Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety officers pull over African-American drivers at a much higher rate than others.
KDPS Chief Jeff Hadley was very upfront at a Wednesday morning new conference in admitting that this is a problem that the department has to work on moving forward, and that it will make changes.
Chief Hadley began by going over the results of the racial profiling study that was conducted at the request of the department.
The study looked at 17,695 traffic stops at random locations and days from March 2012 to February 2013.
It found that black drivers were two-and-a-half times more likely to be pulled over. They were told to get out of their vehicle and handcuffed at a much higher rate.
However, they were significantly less likely to have drugs or other contraband on them than non-blacks.
The study found no disparities regarding other races.
Inside woodtv.com: Read the full 47-page study (pdf)
The statistics in the study didn't surprise Dave Brown, who has lived in Kalamazoo for years.
"I expect I'll be searched to the limits [when pulled over]," he said.
But Brown said he also sees hope in the study's findings -- more for his children than for himself.
"They're just watching and everything that we're doing is impacting them in so many ways," he said. "Maybe things can change by the time that they get older to where they don't have to deal with none of this -- racial profiling, racism, different type of government issues that we have. I don't think that they should really have to be dealing with this."
Chief Hadley spoke emotionally Wednesday morning about the impact the results of the study are likely to have on his officers and the community.
"It doesn't serve anybody any good to retreat and get into a us vs. them mentality," he said. "We've lived that before and we don't need that. That doesn't mean this isn't going to be challenging for our officers. But that's our job. That's my job, the chief's job, my staff's job. We've got to leave these folks. We've got to help them and help these young officers. We've got 25-, 26-year-old kids that are just starting off. We've got to help them. We've got to learn, and that's what we're going to try and do as best we can."
Hadley called for the study and said he believes the data is accurate, telling 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday night that he takes ownership as the chief.
"Your job as a cop is to protect all of us and to do what you're supposed to be doing, but not based on the color of someone's skin," Kalamazoo resident Amyre Dennis said.
KDPS officers are prepared the chief says for the challenges the study's findings may cause for officers, some of whom say they fear the results of the study may impact their safety.
"As emotions run high, things can be said and happen and we just don't need that," Hadley said.
But he said he's ready to engage with the community and work to change these numbers in the future.
"It is what it is. We gotta deal with the data. We said we were going to tell the truth and that's what we're doing," he said.
Moving forward, the chief said they will review all traffic stop policies and make necessary changes.
They will add more training for officers, collect more data, and continue to involve the community in coming up with solutions to the racial profiling problem.
Holland police are searching for 28-year-old Mark Steven Randall Harris, who should be considered armed and dangerous.
Firefighters are battling a fire at a condominium complex in Kalamazoo Township.
Thermotron Industries, a business that's been located in Holland for more than 40 years, was raided by the FBI Wednesday morning.