KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) - The chief of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety presented the findings of a study on racial profiling to the City Commission Tuesday night.
KDPS commissioned the study, which was conducted by Lamberth Consulting between March 1, 2012 and Feb. 28, 2013.
The study used traffic stop data collected on random days from various areas of the city. It also catalogued the number of people who were ordered out of their vehicles, handcuffed and searched. The study only considered discretionary searches of suspects, not ones that were mandatory according to policy.
The study found that black drivers were 2.32 times more likely to be stopped by police than non-black drivers.
The consultant said that a disparity of between 1.5 and two indicated that there may be a problem, whereas a disparity of more than two indicated there was a problem.
Black drivers were less likely to be cited, but more likely to be searched and cuffed, despite the fact that they are less likely to have contraband. 33% of non-black drivers had drugs or other contraband, whereas 27% of black drivers had contraband.
Hispanics were not "targeted," or more likely to be stopped, searched or cuffed, the study showed. There was no statistical disparity.
KDPS Chief Jeff Hadley said that the findings of the study have been "tough" to realize.
"It's my department," he told 24 Hour News 8. "I take ownership. I'm the chief. I feel responsible. I feel responsible for those young officers out there that have two or three years the department. We gotta guide them better. We gotta show them a better way. So you're damn right I'm emotional."
24 Hour News 8 was told rank and file officers were upset by the findings. Some fear that it may cause officers to be hesitant in enforcing the law with minority suspects.
"If I'm a white officer, I'm going to be walking on eggshells," one officer told 24 Hour News 8.
Inside woodtv.com: Read the full 47-page study (pdf)
At the emotional meeting during which the results were released, Commissioner Barb Miller called the findings "somber."
"How long before real change takes place?" she asked.
"This is an example of institutional racism," Commissioner Don Cooney said. "We've got a lot of work to do. ... I believe that your officers want to do the right thing."
He suggested that the city bring in experts to help combat racial profiling, saying he didn't think the city could tackle the problem alone.
"It's sad. I'm troubled by the numbers," Commissioner Bob Cinabro said. "This is really a cultural phenomenon."
Vice Mayor Hannah McKinney asked "why" more blacks were arrested in the study when contraband was found more often with non-blacks.
"I hate the numbers, but I am so dog-gone proud of you" and Kalamazoo's police officers, McKinney added. "This is so well done."
"I sit here and try to fight back the tears," said Stephanie Moore, Kalamazoo's only black city commissioner, though she said the results were not a surprise.
She disputed notion that study was not demanded by the community.
Moore also said "in-house" issues need to be addressed regarding promotions and other issues before racial profiling on the streets could be addressed.
"How many people of color [police officers] do we actually have on the streets now?" Moore asked.
"Not many," Hadley replied.
She said she thinks the chief has his work cut out for him.
"I believe that we'll get there," Moore said. "I have confidence in you."
Mayor Bobby Hopewell said he wants to post the findings of the study on the city website.
"It's not okay. It's not acceptable. The data is yours," he said, giving a message to officers on the outcome of the study.
But, he said, "We'll get through this."
It's not yet known how the city and department will respond to the findings.
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